The History of English Spelling

The History of English Spelling

Hardback Language Library

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


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Paperback $29.47
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Format: Hardback | 392 pages
  • Dimensions: 170mm x 230mm x 26mm | 621g
  • Publication date: 13 September 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Chicester
  • ISBN 10: 1405190248
  • ISBN 13: 9781405190244
  • Edition: 2
  • Edition statement: 2nd ed.
  • Illustrations note: maps
  • Sales rank: 1,772,014

Product description

The History of English Spelling reveals the history ofModern English spelling, tracing its origins and development fromOld English up to the present day. Includes a wealth of information and data on English spellingnot available anywhere else Features a complementary website with additionalmaterial at Includes detailed coverage of the contributions from French,Latin, Greek - and the many other languages - to our currentorthography Serves as a companion volume to Geoffrey Hughes's A Historyof English Words in the same series

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Author information

George Davidson is a freelance lexicographer, book compiler, and editor who has written several books on English grammar, usage, spelling, and vocabulary. Some of his recent publications include Perfect Wedding Speeches and Toasts (2007), The Drawings of Gustave Dore (2008), and Why Are There No Cats in the Bible? (2008). He has formerly worked as a French teacher and lecturer in linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. 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, 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)

Review quote

Summing Up: Highly recommended. Allreaders. ( 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 and Tables viii Preface ix Abbreviations and Symbols xi Language Periods Referred to in the Text xiv 1 Introduction and Overview 1 2 England and English from the Romans to the Vikings 14 3 The Old English Roots of Modern English Spelling 33 4 The Decline and Revival of English in the Middle EnglishPeriod 65 5 The Franco-Latin Element 86 6 Some Sound and Spelling Developments in Middle and ModernEnglish 173 7 The Greek Contribution 194 8 The Exotic Input 228 9 Reformers, Lexicographers and the Parting of the Ways 293 Glossary of Technical Terms 315 Bibliography 320 Language and Dialect Index 324 Word and Word-Element Index 328 General Index 373