An introduction to Early Modern English, this book helps students of English and linguistics to place the language of the period Terttu Nevalainen. Reviews of books This interdisciplinary study is an exemplary collection of high quality essays, each of which makes a very valuable contribution not only to . Terttu Nevalainen, An Introduction to Early Modern English. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp. $

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Early Modern English

Log In Sign Up. This book appears in the series Edinburgh Textbooks on the English Language. Each volume is approximately — pages long, with a decent amount of text per page, affording space for a reasonably detailed treatment of the topic in hand. This list clearly indicates that the primary audience for this series is students of English with a strong linguistics orien- tation; in other words, this series is mainly concerned with the structures of English and less with the sociology of English.

Having said that, it is introducction to write a book on a period of the English language without attending to both its structural nature and its extra-linguistic contexts of use.

In fact, compared with the earlier volumes on Old English and Middle English in this series, this volume on Early Modern English devotes even more space to extra-linguistic matters.

And quite rightly so: We need to know about the terttu context of the language — the ways in which it varies according to region, social group, use and so on. This is what this volume provides in addition to the usual structural description. Consequently, although the main readership that can benefit from this volume is students of English Linguistics, it will be of some genuine introductiob to that general mass of students of English, including those engaged in studies of Renaissance literature.

In particular, for more literary-minded students, I would point to Chapter 2 which provides an overview of mmodern sources the study of early modern English, Chapter 3 which looks at the standardization of English, and Chapter 10 which considers the extralinguistic social and cultural contexts of the period.

Together they provide a real sense of the variety of genres and dialects of the introdduction, how they changed within it and the attitudes and circumstances of Early Modern contemporaries. This mocern not to deny that some chapters will prove tough for students nevalanien at least some background in linguistics, as I shall point out below.


Textbooks books on the history of the English language can be evaluated in both academic and pedagogical terms.

Rarely do they do well in both. This volume is one of those rarities. Terttu Nevalainen is a leading scholar in Early Introdduction English and a pioneer in the field of historical sociolinguistics. Thus, at the outset, academic expectations are high, but we are not disappointed. To take an example, the first few pages consider the period that constitutes Early Modern English relative to its adjacent periods, Middle English and Late Modern English.

An Introduction to Early Modern English

Through this, the reader can see how Early Modern English relates to other periods of English on the basis of evidence of its structural characteristics.

The book has a neat symmetry in that the issue of what characterizes the period relative to others reappears in the final chapter. However, this time the focus nevallainen more on extra linguistic characteristics relating to such factors as technological advances printing, for exampleliteracy and education, migration and urbanisation especially into the cities and the globalization of English.

Throughout the book, we find strong and explicit evidence for what is said. This evidence is drawn from extant studies, includ- ing the latest works in the field, numerous textual examples, and what Early Modern contemporaries were saying about their own language. This final source of evidence is skilfully used to avoid a thorny old problem: Clearly, it is not possible to describe all of them. This general dialect then becomes the point of focus for the structural descriptions that follow in the book.

The book is structured with pedagogical considerations in mind. English phonetics and phonology tend to make even fully-fledged linguistics students nervous. Sensibly, inttroduction, the chapter on pronunciation is the penultimate one.

The first three chapters constitute a gentle introduction to the period, the sources available for its study, and some general aspects of its standardization.

Similarly, the first two chapters describing structural aspects of English focus on words — the most accessible linguistic area for students Chapter 4 deals with the Old English core of the vocabulary and with borrowing, whilst Chapter 5 deals with word-formation and semantic change. The following three chapters cover grammar nouns and pronouns in Chapter 6; verbs, adjectives and adverbs in Chapter 7; and syntactic structures in Chapter 8.

For literature-oriented students, these will be tough. Some basic linguistic terminology and concepts are assumed, such as basic sentence elements for example, subject, objectmood, the progressive, the passive and so on. Chapter 9 on pronunciation encounters another thorny problem: This chapter explicitly assumes a basic knowledge of speech sounds and their repre- sentation see Other textbooks do similar things or fudge the issue.


Generally in the book, students are assisted by crystal clear description and fairly copious illustration, including the occasional facsimile.

I particularly liked the way in which textual extracts would be given to illustrate a particular example, but they would be returned to later to illus- trate further points.

An Introduction to Early Modern English – By Terttu Nevalainen | Jonathan Culpeper –

All chapters conclude with a ehglish concise summary, followed by a number of exercises. Moreover, the book concludes with two appendices containing well-chosen textual extracts from a range of genres for further study and project work corpus resources are also mentioned in Chapter 2.

In sum, this book has much to recommend it. However, the adage about not judging books proves true in this instance, and the unsightly, dreary cover in fact hides a rich and colourful collection of essays which make this book a delight to read. It would be a shame were the packaging to deter readers especially studentsand for a text with its finger so firmly on the pulse of modern media in its protean forms it is painfully out-of-touch in its appearance.

It may well be the case, of course, that Henderson had no control over the jacket design. Time and again contributors turn their critical atten- tion to Hamlet or Macbeth, for example, and Branagh, Welles, Taymor and Almereyda crop up repeatedly. This is a book that does not do what the inclusivity of its title promises.

In some significant ways it actually does far more and might better have been marketed as a collection of essays on the tragedies in film, as it is in those analyses that its strengths really lie. A good example of this latter type of adaptation. Remember me on this computer. Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link.

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