The History of English Spelling

The History of English Spelling

Paperback Language Library

By (author) Christopher Upward, By (author) George Davidson

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  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Format: Paperback | 392 pages
  • Dimensions: 155mm x 231mm x 23mm | 572g
  • Publication date: 13 September 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Chicester
  • ISBN 10: 140519023X
  • ISBN 13: 9781405190237
  • Illustrations note: maps, figures
  • Sales rank: 414,638

Product description

The History of English Spelling reveals the history of Modern English spelling, tracing its origins and development from Old English up to the present day. * Includes a wealth of information and data on English spelling not available anywhere else * Features a complementary website with additional material at * Includes detailed coverage of the contributions from French, Latin, Greek - and the many other languages - to our current orthography * Serves as a companion volume to Geoffrey Hughes's A History of English Words in the same series

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Author information

Christopher Upward (1938-2002) was a Senior Lecturer in German at Aston University in Birmingham until his retirement in 1995. For many years Upward was a member of the committee of the Simplified Spelling Society (now known as the English Spelling Society), and Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the Simplified Spelling Society. He was also an Associate Editor of The Oxford Companion to the English Language (1992), and prepared two editions of Cut Spelling: A handbook to the simplification of written English by omission of redundant letters (Simplified Spelling Society 1992, 1996). George Davidson is a freelance lexicographer, book compiler and editor. He has written several books on English grammar, usage, spelling, and vocabulary, such as How to Punctuate (2005) and Improve Your Spelling (2005), and has edited numerous books, including the 150th Anniversary Edition of Roget s Thesaurus of English Words & Phrases (2002). He has formerly worked as a French teacher and lecturer in linguistics.

Review quote

Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers. ( Choice, 1 October 2012)

Back cover copy

Few languages are riddled with as many spelling inconsistencies and irregularities as English. Why is there such dissonance between the sounds of English and the spelling used to represent them? The answer lies in the history of the language itself. "The History of English Spelling" reveals the rich and complex history of Modern English spelling, tracing its origins and development from Old English up to the present day. The book provides a highly detailed, letter-by-letter analysis of the Old English basis of Modern English spelling, followed by in-depth coverage of the contributions from French, Latin, Greek, and the many other languages that have contributed to current orthography. Upward and Davidson also explore events in the socio-political history of England as an explanatory setting for developments in spelling, along with the works of a number of lexicographers (especially Johnson and Webster), and various proposals for spelling reform. "The History of English Spelling" reveals the richness of the complex and often frustrating alphabetic spelling system used in the English language. A complementary website with additional research material can be found at

Table of contents

List of Figures. List of Tables. Preface. Abbreviations and Symbols. Language Periods Referred to in the Text. 1. Introduction and Overview. 2. England and English from the Romans to the Vikings. 3. The Old English Roots of Modern English Spelling. 4. The Decline and Revival of English in the Middle English Period. 5. The Franco-Latin Element. 6. Some Sound and Spelling Developments in Middle and Modern English. 7. The Greek Contribution. 8. The Exotic Input. 9. Reformers, Lexicographers and the Parting of the Ways. Glossary of Technical Terms. Bibliography. Language Index. Word Index Subject and Author Index.