The Oxford History of English, Edited by Lynda Mugglestone

 

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The Independent Culture

For a scholarly work pursing English from its hazy origins to the internet, this book provides much pleasure.

We see how Judge Jeffreys's fearsome warning to a witness switched from "you" to "thou" as he got heavier. Sheridan was first to use "dressing gown" (1781) and Mrs Thrale "lapel" (1798). Queen Victoria stuck to the plural after hearing of Khartoum: "These news are dreadful."

David Crystal writes about chatrooms: "the first time… a domain of language has become off-limits (especially to male researchers)."

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