The rich variety of the English vocabulary reflects the vast number of words it has taken from other languages. These range from Latin, Greek, Scandinavian, Celtic, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian to, among others, Hebrew, Maori, Malay, Chinese, Hindi, Japanese, and Yiddish. He shows how to discover the origins of loanwords, when and why they were adopted, and what happens to them once they have been. The long documented history of English includes contact with languages in a variety of contexts, including: the dissemination of Christian culture in Latin in Anglo-Saxon England, and the interactions of French, Latin, Scandinavian, Celtic, and English during the Middle Ages; exposure to languages throughout the world during the colonial era; and the effects of using English as an international language of science. Philip Durkin describes these and other historical inputs, introducing the approaches each requires, from the comparative method for the earliest period to documentary and corpus research in the modern. The discussion is illustrated at every point with examples taken from a variety of different sources. The framework Dr Durkin develops can be used to explore lexical borrowing in any language. This outstanding book is for everyone interested in English etymology and in loanwords more generally.
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Philip Durkin, Deputy Chief Editor of the OED, Oxford University Press
Philip Durkin is Deputy Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary, and has led the dictionary's team of specialists in etymology for the past fifteen years. His Oxford Guide to Etymology (2009; paperback 2011) has quickly become the standard work in the field.
"Durkin achieves his goal of reaching "the reader who perseveres" and demonstrates that etymologies are neither certain nor stale. It is refreshing to read a history of the English language from such a focused perspective, and Durkin is clearly passionate about the subject." -- Linguist List
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