A history book that reads like fiction. King Alfred’s English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do, by Laurie J. White. Intended for students and “curious adults,” King Alfred’s English is a fascinating look at the history of the evolution of our language. This book chronicles the people and events that shaped the English language over the centuries and its amazing rise from a “coarse, vulgar” tongue to the most beautiful and dominant language of the world today.
Have you ever wondered why England is also called Britain? Or asked yourself where the Southern rebel yell came from? Or how Martin Luther, a German, influenced the English language? Do you know how many words Shakespeare used in his plays? Or how many of those words were his own invention? Any idea when the Great Vowel Shift occurred – or even what it was? What is the difference between an inflected language and an analytical language? What is the Language Law? King Alfred’s English answers all these questions and more.
Ms. White charts a course through the 4 major language “invasions” that influenced the vocabulary and grammar of that wild, barbaric island off the northern coast of France. Her history also includes the stories of the individual men who influenced our native tongue: King Arthur, Alfred, William the Conqueror, Wycliffe, Chaucer, Gutenberg, Tyndale, King James (and his Bible), and William Shakespeare. Jam-packed with interesting trivia and details about English history and language – and language in general – King Alfred’s English is an informative read for kids and adults alike. For those who love the power of words like I do, it’s a must-read. As a special bonus, Laurie White also offers free supplemental material online (worksheets, tests, research activities, and links) to go with each chapter.