A History of the English Language: 1550 - 1800

Ref: C2527631

This course will start in the mid-fifteenth century, and follow the story of English as it developed over the following centuries. We can use a multitude of sources, from the King James Bible to Robbie Burns, slang dictionaries to letters, to consider changes in vocabulary, grammar and spelling. We'll look at how American English peeled away from its origins, and contacts with other countries continued to make their mark. Along the way we will encounter Inkhorn writers, penny universities, and cowboys, meet "Dictionary" Johnson, "Elocution" Walter and "Grammar" Murray, and consider the fascinating stories behind hundreds of individual words.

Course aim

To follow the journey of the English language as it continued to evolve in the centuries after the printing press, from the early modern English of Shakespeare to something not far off our own tongue.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • This course is for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe some of the ways English developed, including the influence of other languages
  • Understand the ways in which attempts were made to describe, and fix in place, the English language
  • Understand how American English developed its own unique features
  • Describe some sources which can be used to explore the development of of the English language in this period

How will I be taught?

What kind of feedback can I expect?

What else do I need to know?

All materials will be provided on Zoom and Canvas as well as links to resources allowing further exploration of the topic if you wish.

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

What can I do next?

View full course information sheet

A History of the English Language: 1550 - 1800

Enrolment Conditions

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2021
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

Not sure or have further questions? Contact courseenquiries@wea.org.uk

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