The English Language history and its use

I enjoyed reading the book A History of the English Language in 100 Places written by Prof. Bill Lucas and Prof. Christopher Mulvey. This is the English Project website.

It displays the history of English and its impact:

  • Pamphlet for Grammar by William Bullokar in 1586 was the first grammar of the English Language. (p.71)
  • The scientific journal Philosophical Transactions, first published in 1665, was probably the first international science journal written in English. (p.86)
  • The term “Badminton” originates a game with shuttlecocks invented in southwest England. (p.92)
  • The term “Bungalow” is from a corruption of ‘Bengal’, describing the kind of cottages built by European settlers in that par of India. (p.92)
  • Carl Linnaeus, a Swede, rationalized the ‘binomial nomenclature’ that is the foundation of the modern scientific naming of all living things (animals and plants). Linnaeus insisted that every species should have two names: the first would identify the genus to which it belonged; the second would identify the species within the genus. (p.107)
  • Louis Braille’s six-dot grid provided exactly what was wanted to transcribe writing for the eye into writing for the fingertip. (pp.117-118) Yes. it is still in use today, I found them on the packages of medicines.
  • In 1825, George Stephenson built a steam engine that he called Locomotion to haul a train from Stockton to Darlington. Locomotion was not the first self-moving stream engine, but it was the first passenger locomotive. (p.123)
  • Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch means ‘St Mary’s Church in the Hollow of the White Hazel near the Rapid Whirlpool of St Tysilio of the Red Cave.’ (p.148) I went to see this longest name station last year, didn’t know it was closed in 1968. I think it’s open at present.
  • The shortest place name in the British Isles is Ae, a village in Dumfries and Galloway. ‘Ae’ is Celtic for river, as are Avon, Ouse and Wey. Many place names owe something to the Romans, particularly those ending in ‘- chester’. That comes from the Latin word castrum – fort. Those are places where Roman armies set up camps that later became cities. Places ending in ‘-by’, ‘-thorp’, ‘-beck’, ‘-dale’ and ‘-thwaite’ were originally Danish settlements and are usually found on the east coast and in the north. (p.150)
  • On 10 March 1876, the world’s first telephone message was sent/received between Alexander Graham Bell and Thomas A. Watson at Exeter Place, Boston. (p.150)
  • It was The Times of London that developed the technology to print on both sides of the page using high-speed press in the 1820s. (p.166)
  • Arthur Wynne created ‘word-cross’ puzzle. first included in the New York World on 21 December 1913. (p.168)
  • The tarting point of BBC English is an accent that became known as ‘Received English’, or RP. It was a new name for a speech pattern developed in English public schools in the nineteenth century. Its intention was to ensure that it was not possible to detect the birthplace of a speaker. (p.175)
  • In 2000, the Oxford English Dictionary went online, and it is in the process of a complete rewriting. Some 4,000 words are being added every year. What will be called OED3 is promised for 2037; meanwhile, the digital OED lists over 600,000 headwords. (p.178)
  • http://www.plainlanguage.gov/ website dedicates to the use of effective communication by the federal government starting in the United States and has wide acceptance across the world. (p.185)
  • On page 221, it said over 100 countries speak English as their major language, including the Philippines and Pakistan. I didn’t realise it. Indeed English is their official language.
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