The History of English Spelling

The History of English Spelling

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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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Product details

  • Hardback | 392 pages
  • 170 x 230 x 26mm | 621.42g
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
  • Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)
  • Chichester, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 2nd ed.
  • maps
  • 1405190248
  • 9781405190244
  • 2,380,853

Review quote

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

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.
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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
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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 English Period 65 5 The Franco-Latin Element 86 6 Some Sound and Spelling Developments in Middle and Modern English 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
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Review Text

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