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The History of English Podcast

History Podcasts

The Spoken History of a Global Language

The Spoken History of a Global Language

Location:

United States

Description:

The Spoken History of a Global Language

Language:

English


Episodes

Episode 145: A Sea Change for Europe

2/17/2021
The period of European exploration and discovery began in the 1400s as part of an effort to find new trading routes to Africa and Asia. In this episode, we look at how European sailors and merchants began to think of … Continue reading →

Duration:01:08:12

Episode 144: A Murder of Crows and Princes

1/20/2021
In the second half of the 1400s, there is written evidence of word play and new word formations within English. These new terms included words for the sounds made by animals and collective nouns for various groups of animals and … Continue reading →

Duration:00:54:29

Bonus Episode: Chaucer’s Purse and the Great Vowel Shift

12/17/2020
In this bonus episode of the regular podcast, we explore the effects of the Great Vowel Shift on the pronunciation of English by reading Geoffrey Chaucer’s last known poem in Middle English, early Modern English and contemporary English.

Duration:00:26:30

Episode 143: The Great Vowel Shift (Part 3)

11/24/2020
In this final episode about the sound changes associated with the Great Vowel Shift, we explore the vowel shifts that took place in the back of the mouth. We also explore how these changes impacted the way words are spelled … Continue reading →

Duration:00:57:07

Episode 142: The Great Vowel Shift (Part 2)

10/22/2020
In this second part of our look at the Great Vowel Shift, we explore the movement of the vowel sounds located in the bottom front part of the mouth. We also examine how these sounds were traditionally spelled and how … Continue reading →

Duration:00:49:01

Episode 141: The Great Vowel Shift (Part 1)

9/24/2020
The term ‘Great Vowel Shift’ was coined in the early 1900s by the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen to describe a systematic change in the long vowel sounds of English. The changes help to mark the transition from Middle English to … Continue reading →

Duration:00:55:43

Episode 140: You Say ‘To-may-to’

8/28/2020
Vowel sounds are a key feature of every language, but the actual vowel sounds vary from one language to another. The English language contains about twenty vowel sounds, some of which are pure vowels and some of which are a … Continue reading →

Duration:01:06:27

Episode 139: The Business of Printing

7/21/2020
William Caxton introduced the mass production of books to England in the 1470s. He was also the first person to print books in the English language via the printing press. Caxton’s publications reveal the priorities and concerns of a businessman, … Continue reading →

Duration:01:11:17

Episode 138: Family Matters

6/25/2020
In the 1400s, rising literacy rates and access to cheap paper combined to produce the first collections of personal letters in the English language. One of the earliest letter collections was maintained by the Paston family of Norfolk. Their letters … Continue reading →

Duration:01:07:03

Episode 136: The Real Robin Hood

4/24/2020
The legend of Robin Hood has its origins in the murky history of England after the Norman Conquest, but the first written examples of Robin Hood ballads don’t appear until the mid-1400s. In this episode, we examine the earliest references … Continue reading →

Duration:01:03:55

Bonus Episode: Stay at Home Edition

4/6/2020
In this bonus ‘stay at home’ episode, we explore several words and phrases that appeared for the first time in the first half of the 15th century, including “turnpike,” “to curry favor,” “budget,” “average,” “peculiar,” “hogwash,” and others.

Duration:00:56:13

Episode 135: A House of Cards

3/23/2020
In the early 1400s, playing cards made their first appearance in England. Those cards provide evidence of an early form of printing, but it would take another generation for Johannes Gutenberg to invent the printing press. In this episode we … Continue reading →

Duration:01:16:37

Episode 134: A Lancastrian Standard

2/20/2020
In the early 1400s, England welcomed a new king, a new ruling family, and a new role for the English language in the administration of government. In this episode, we explore the rise of the House of Lancaster and the … Continue reading →

Duration:01:09:01

Episode 133: Breaking Bread With Companions

1/21/2020
In this episode, we explore words associated with mealtime in the Middle Ages. We also examine the important role of bread in medieval meals and impact of bread-related terms on the English language. Finally, we look at the important role … Continue reading →

Duration:01:09:59

Episode 132: Food for Thought

12/19/2019
In the midst of the English literary revival of the late 1300s, the household chefs of Richard II compiled the first cookbook in the English language. In the episode, we examine the cookbook known as ‘The Forme of Cury,’ and … Continue reading →

Duration:01:10:25

Episode 131: Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

11/25/2019
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is one of the most popular English poems of the Middle Ages. In this episode, we explore the language and story of the poem. We also examine how the poem reflects certain changes that … Continue reading →

Duration:01:16:07

Episode 130: Dialect Dialogues

10/22/2019
Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the first English writers to compose dialogue in regional dialects to reflect the way characters spoke in the different parts of England. In this episode, we explore the dialogue of Chaucer’s northern students in the … Continue reading →

Duration:00:55:50

Episode 129: Chaucer’s Vulgar Tongue [EXPLICIT LANGUAGE]

9/25/2019
Geoffrey Chaucer was one of the few poets of the Middle Ages to explore the vulgar side of English and the connection between the common people and their language. The Miller’s Tale exemplifies this style. In this episode, we explore … Continue reading →

Duration:01:15:07

Bonus Episode: The Life of Guy – An Interview with Allan Metcalf

9/10/2019
In this bonus episode, Kevin interviews Allan Metcalf about his new book, “The Life of Guy: Guy Fawkes, the Gunpowder Plot, and the Unlikely History of an Indispensable Word.”

Duration:00:22:59

Episode 128: The Canterbury Tellers

8/23/2019
The Canterbury Tales is a collection of stories told by pilgrims during their trek to Canterbury Cathedral. The pilgrims represent a cross-section of English society in the late 1300s, and Geoffrey Chaucer paints a vivid picture of each one. He … Continue reading →

Duration:00:59:14