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A Historical Phonology of English

Donka Minkova

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Charts the historical development of the English phonological system

A thorough and fascinating exploration of the evolution of English’ phonological structure, this book traces the history of individual sounds and their representation through Old, Middle, Early Modern and Present Day English.

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1. Periods in the History of English
2. The Phonetic and Phonological Foundations of Sound Change
3. Some Pre-Old English Changes
4. Consonants: the OE system
5. Consonants: from OE to PDE
6. The Vowels of OE
7. Transition
8. Vowel Quality and Quantity in EModE and Later
9. Focus on Prosody: the Evolution of the English Stress System
10. The Linguistic History of English Verse Forms.

About the Author

Donka Minkova is Professor of English, UCLA


One of the many virtues of the book is the way that it seemlessly integrates linguistics and philological information... The book is a goldmine of ideas for students looking for topics to research. Another remarkable feature of the book is the currency of the research represented and the author's willingness to abandon lon-held consensual views on the basis of recent findings... This book is a product of many years' experience in the library and the calssroom of a leading figure in English historical linguistics, as well as the result, plainly, of a great deal of hard and meticulous work. There are delights to be found on every page... The substance of the book is enhanced by a free-access online companion with more than 130 pages of original material in the form of additional readings, exercises, comments and further resources. Both instructors and students will be grateful to have such a detailed, up-to-date and brilliant introduction to the historical phonology of English.

- R. D. Fulk, Indiana University , Diachronica

This book is a very impressive accomplishment that will serve both present and future students and fellow scholars well in their learning, teaching and research.

- Robert W. Murray, University of Calgary, English Studies

The book complements McMahon’s (2002) volume in the ETOTEL series by providing an in-depth historical background to Present Day English which demonstrates the development of modern English from its earlier stages. Minkova writes clearly, explaining the subject in an easily-understandable and engaging manner which is appropriate for more advanced students. The further reading and sample questions are useful for both students and tutors. Overall, the book succeeds in its aim as a bridge between basic introductory textbooks on the subject and more specific, period-based phonologies of English.

- Christine Wallis, University of Sheffield, Linguist List

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