+ Recommended Books on the History of English

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Here is Marcia Henry’s list of books on the history of English, from her book  “Unlocking Literacy“:


  • Brook, D, & Zallinger, JD (Illustrated).  1998.  The Journey of English.  New York: Clarion Books.
  • Klausner, JC.  1990.  Talk about English: How Words Travel and Change.  New York, Thomas Y Crowell.
  • Krensky, S.  1996.  Breaking into Print: Before and After the Invention of the Printing Press.  Toronto: Little, Brown.
  • Samoyault, T. 1996.  Alphabetical Order: How the Alphabet BeganNew York: Penguin.


  • Ayto, J.  1999.  Twentieth Century WordsNew York: Oxford University Press.
  • Balmuth, M.  1992.  The Roots of PhonicsTimonium, MD: York Press.
  • Barnett, L.  1964.  The Treasure of Our TongueNew York: Alfred A Knopf.
  • Bryson, B.  1990.  The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way  New York: William Morrow.
  • Claiborne, R.  1983.  Our Marvelous Native Tongue: The Life and Times of the English LanguageNew York: Times Books.
  • Lederer, R.  1991.  The Miracle of Language  New York: Pocket Books.
  • Logan, RK.  1986.  The Alphabet EffectNew York:  St Martin’s Press.
  • Manguel, A.  1996.  A History of ReadingNew York: Viking.
  • Martin, H-J.  1994.  The History and Power of WritingChicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • McCrum, R, Cran, S, & Mac Neil, R.  1986.  The Story of English   New York: Viking.
  • Nist, J.  1996.  A Structural History of English   New York:  St. Martin’s Press.
  • Pei, M.  1965, 1949.  The Story of LanguagePhiladelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
  • Pinker, S.  1994.  The Language Instinct   New York: William Morrow.
  • Soukhanov, AH.  (1995.  Word Watch: The Story Behind the Words of Our LivesNew York: Henry Holt & Co.


Marcia Henry quotes from Nist’s  (see above) clever inventory of some Anglo-Saxon words in use today.

English remains preeminently Anglo-Saxon in its core.  These words are the common, everyday, down-to-earth words used frequently in ordinary situations. 

Whether a person is American, British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander or South African, he

loves his mother, father, brother, sister, wife, son and daughter; lifts his hand to his head, his cup to his mouth, his eye to heaven and his heart to God; hates his foes, likes his friends, kisses his kin and buries his dead; draws his breath, eats his bread, drinks his water, stands his watch, wipes his sweat, feels his sorrow, weeps his tears and sheds his blood; and all these things he thinks about and calls both good and bad.

In addition to this vocabulary, other Anglo-Saxon elements are (according to Nist) “the suprasegmentals of its stress, pitch and juncture.”

sole source: “Unlocking Literacy: Effective Decoding & Spelling Instruction,” by Marcia K Henry.  Paul H Brookes Publishing, 2003.   ISBN 10: 1-55766-664-4.  www.brookespublishing.com

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email   aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com


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