Lingua e Società. Percorsi di studio / ISSN 2723-8962
Numero in collana
Didattica delle lingue
This book examines with a critical eye the standard narrative regarding the evolution of Old and Middle English, according to which English appeared in the 5th century out of an amalgam of supposedly related West Germanic languages, later simplified by contact with Old Norse, and then refined by mixing with Norman French. Other versions of events, not least the Celtic hypothesis, and perhaps the existence of Germanic languages in Britain before the arrival of the Romans, will be presented as credible alternative accounts.
Discussion will not be limited to linguistic data, which unfortunately is often lacking or open to different interpretations, but will also draw upon the work of historians, archaeologists and geneticists. Their observations provide the relevant background for a better understanding of the main ethnic and social characteristics of the environment within which English was to evolve.
In the individual chapters, the perspective of the main different ethnic groupings (themselves seen as fluid identities) will be dealt with in turn, focusing on the contribution of each (through such processes as accommodation, adaption, code mixing and translanguaging) to the complex multilingual ecosystem that constituted the then linguistic landscape of the British-Irish Isles. The wider European context will also be considered, thereby not losing sight of the more general dynamics of the various linguistic forces at play on a continental scale.
Finally, and most importantly in regard to contemporary studies into the nature and implications of the advent of English as a Lingua Franca (ELF), this book contributes to the ongoing debate about the role of non-native speakers in the evolution of the language, adding a fresh perspective. The argument advanced is that one needs only look back to the roots of English to see that ELF variations are nothing new; they are merely modern manifestations of the same phenomena that must have characterised discourse in English in its early stages, and played a key role in determining the essential nature of the language in the first place.
Thomas Wulstan Christiansen is an associate professor in English Language and Translation at the Università del Salento (Italy), and Director of the University Language Centre. Of Danish-English heritage and originally from Birmingham, England, he has been based in southern Italy since he graduated. He has taught at various higher education institutions in Apulia (Italy), Poland, and the UK. He is also a language teaching and testing consultant. In this capacity, he has worked widely in Italy, as well as Albania.
He studied European Studies with French at the University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology (with two terms at the Institut Européen des Hautes Etudes Internationales, Nice), Teaching English at Aston University, and completed his PhD in textual linguistics at the University of Salford. He has published three books and numerous articles on various areas of linguistics including discourse and cohesion, systemic linguistics and functional grammar, varieties of English, ELF, teaching English, language testing, and analysis of different corpora, including spoken discourse.
The Multilingual Roots of English
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