Language Myths and the History of English

Language Myths and the History of English

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Language Myths and the History of English aims to deconstruct the myths that are traditionally reproduced as factual accounts of the historical development of English. Using concepts and interpretive sensibilities developed in the field of sociolinguistics over the past 40 years, Richard J. Watts unearths these myths and exposes their ideological roots. His goal is not to construct an alternative discourse, but to offer alternative readings of the historical data. Watts raises the question of what we mean by a linguistic ideology, and whether any discourse-a hegemonic discourse, an alternative discourse, or even a deconstructive discourse-can ever be free of it. The book argues that a naturalized discourse is always built on a foundation of myths, which are all too easily taken as true accounts.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 352 pages
  • 154.94 x 228.6 x 27.94mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 14 illus.
  • 0195327616
  • 9780195327618
  • 1,430,307

About Richard J. Watts

Richard J. Watts is Emeritus Professor of English Linguistics at the University of Bern.show more

Table of contents

Preface ; Chapter 1: Metaphors, myths, ideologies and archives ; Chapter 2: Establishing a linguistic pedigree ; Chapter 3: Breaking the unbroken tradition ; Chapter 4: The construction of a modern myth: Middle English as a creole ; Chapter 5: Barbarians and others ; Chapter 6: The myth of "greatness" ; Chapter 7: Reinterpreting Swift's A Proposal for Correcting, Improving and Ascertaining the English Tongue: Challenging an embryonic modern myth ; Chapter 8: Polishing the myths: The commercial side of politeness ; Chapter 9: Challenging the hegemony of standard English ; Chapter 10: Transforming a myth to save an archive: When polite becomes educated ; Chapter 11: Commodifying English and constructing a new myth ; Chapter 12: Myths, ideologies of English and the funnel view of the history of English ; References ; Indexshow more

Review quote

we must thank Watts for presenting a narrative and interpretative text, in which the quantitative results, so prevalent in recent research, reamain secondary. Within its pages, it becomes clear that history has an open nature, acquiring new dimensions in new circumstances, and that knowledge, a shared legacy continuously rebuilt, is only obtained through research and debate. * Paloma Tejada Caller, Journal of Historical Linguistics * This book is densely written and thoroughly academic; it is myth-busting of a higher order. ... For postgraduate study and research into the history of English and historical (socio)linguistics more generally, however, where an awareness of our own ideologies is crucial, LMHE is highly recommended reading. * Remco Knooihuizen, Journal of Historical Sociolinguistics * thought-provoking and richly documented * Chiara Rubagotti, L'analisi Linguistica e Letteraria * the culmination of a long and distinguished career. * Tim William Machan, The Review of English Studies *show more

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