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The History of English Podcast

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A chronological history of the English language examined through the lens of historical events that shaped the development and spread of the language from the Eurasian steppe to the entire world.

A chronological history of the English language examined through the lens of historical events that shaped the development and spread of the language from the Eurasian steppe to the entire world.
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Location:

United States

Description:

A chronological history of the English language examined through the lens of historical events that shaped the development and spread of the language from the Eurasian steppe to the entire world.

Language:

English


Episodes

Episode 115: The Measure of a Person

8/21/2018
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For much of human history, common measurements of length were based on body parts and were variable from region to region. Most other measurements were also inconsistent. During the 1300s, these measurements started to be fixed and standardized for the … Continue reading →

Duration:01:03:32

Episode 114: The Craft of Numbering

7/26/2018
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The words for numbers are some of the oldest and most conservative words in most languages. The English words for numbers can be traced back to the original Indo-European language, but during the early Middle English period, English speakers began … Continue reading →

Duration:01:07:18

Episode 113: A Zouthern Accent

6/27/2018
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In this episode, we turn our attention to the south of England and examine some of the unique features of the Middle English dialects spoken there after the Norman Conquest. We also take a look at a poem composed in … Continue reading →

Duration:01:02:40

Episode 112: Northern Messenger

6/8/2018
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At the dawn of the 14th century, Edward I was forced to deal with a popular uprising in Scotland. At the same time, a poet in northern England composed the oldest surviving poem in the Northern dialect of Middle English … Continue reading →

Duration:00:59:36

Episode 111: Laying Down the Law

5/10/2018
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One of Edward I’s most notable accomplishments as King of England was the conquest of Wales, and his desire to extend that authority to the north of Britain led some to call him “The Hammer of the Scots.” But beyond … Continue reading →

Duration:01:02:26

Episode 110: Dyed In the Wool

4/7/2018
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In this episode, we explore important role of the wool and cloth industries in Medieval England. Not only was England a major producer of sheep and wool, it also developed its own cloth industry in the 1300s. This was also … Continue reading →

Duration:01:03:17

Episode 109: The Romantic Warriors

3/8/2018
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In the late 1200s, romantic literature started to be composed in English for the first time. The oldest surviving English romance is a poem called King Horn. In this episode, we explore the poem and examine the linguistic developments revealed … Continue reading →

Duration:00:56:25

Episode 108: On the Move

2/9/2018
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In this episode, we look at the movement of people and their money in the 13th century. This was a period when international trading networks carried goods and people to the far-flung corners of the known world. This was also … Continue reading →

Duration:00:55:53

Episode 107: Parlez-Vous Anglais?

1/15/2018
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Even though English writing started to re-emerge in the early 1200s, government and legal documents remained the exclusive domain of Latin and French. English finally found a voice in the English government in the mid-1200s with a series of government … Continue reading →

Duration:00:49:10

Episode 106: An Illuminating Development

12/31/2017
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The 12th and 13th centuries saw the saw the transfer of book production from monasteries to professional bookmakers. In this episode, we look at the birth of the Medieval book trade. We also examine how early illuminators worked with color, … Continue reading →

Duration:00:57:23

Episode 105: Suffix Summary

12/25/2017
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In this episode, we explore some of the suffixes that were in common use in the early 1200s at the time the Ancrene Wisse was composed. These include traditional Old English suffixes, as well as several new suffixes that were … Continue reading →

Duration:00:48:28

Episode 104: Prefix Preferences

12/18/2017
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During the early Middle English period, many loanwords from Latin and French were borrowed into English. Very often, those loanwords came in with prefixes and suffixes that were new to the English language. Many of those new affixes appear for … Continue reading →

Duration:00:57:33

Episode 103: Solitary Confinement

12/2/2017
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The early 13th century saw the rise of a monastic movement in which men and women locked themselves away in secluded cells to practice their religion. These monks were known as anchorites, and an early Middle English text called the … Continue reading →

Duration:00:57:28

Episode 102: A Medieval Glossary

11/6/2017
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In this episode, we explore the notes and translations left behind by scribes in the margins of Medieval manuscripts. Those marginal notes reveal numerous insights about the state of English in the early 1200s. Those early glosses and translations also … Continue reading →

Duration:00:59:24

Episode 101: The Birth of English Song

10/11/2017
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Advances in musical notation allowed the first English folk songs to be preserved in writing in the early 1200s. These songs include “Mirie It Is While Sumer Ilast” and “Sumer Is Icumen In.” In this episode, we explore the Greek … Continue reading →

Duration:01:02:37

Episode 100: Decoding English

9/25/2017
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In this special 100th episode, we review the major consonant sound changes that have impacted English since the Proto-Indo-European language. These sound changes provide us with a set of general rules that we can use to distinguish loanwords from native … Continue reading →

Duration:00:52:03

Episode 99: The Second French Invasion

9/9/2017
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The early 13th century saw the arrival of a new wave of Frenchmen on the English shores. Some came as conquerors, and some came as nobles and courtiers looking for land and titles. During this period, Norman French started to … Continue reading →

Duration:01:10:03

Episode 98: The Great Debates

8/17/2017
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Magna Carta is often presented as the culmination of a dispute between King John and his barons, but it didn’t settle the debate. In fact, the charter actually sparked a new debate over the power of the king. That debate … Continue reading →

Duration:00:59:34

Episode 97: Let’s Put It In Writing

7/27/2017
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The early 13th Century saw a massive increase in the production of government documents, including charters and official letters. In this episode, we explore the changing role of the written word in the Middle Ages. We also examine how King … Continue reading →

Duration:01:02:15

Episode 95: Old School and New School

6/15/2017
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The 12th and 13th Centuries saw the rise of new institutions of higher learning called “universities.” In this episode, we look at the changing educational system in Western Europe and the rise of Oxford and Cambridge. We also explore the … Continue reading →

Duration:01:07:56