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English Language

See also: English as a Second Language.

Selected Books, CDs and DVDs

Acting with an Accent. Dialect Instruction
So you want to become an actor? These CDs will help you get the accent right, with emphasis on creation of proper resonance, rhythm, pitch and stress traits, and vowel pronunciations. There are different CDs for each accent, both American dialects (Boston, Texan) and foreign (Italian, Arabic).
The Adventure of English: The Life Story of a Remarkable Language
(DVD) PE1075.A42 2009x
In this 8 part British documentary TV series, Melvyn Bragg hosts a panel of experts that explore the 1,500-year history of the English language examining its growth from a relatively insignificant Germanic dialect to the premier language of culture, commerce, and diplomacy around the globe.
Bragg, Melvyn
The Adventure of English: The Biography of a Language
PE1075.B66 2004
This is the companion book to "The Adventure of English" documentary TV Series (above)
Crystal, David
The Stories of English
PE1074.7.C79 2004
British linguist Crystal traces the history of Standard English and then he recounts the stories of marginalized regional dialects, vernaculars and other "nonstandard" English, including Middle Earth English.
Fowler, H. W. (Henry Watson), 1858-1933
A Dictionary of Modern English Usage
PE1628.F65 2009
Oxford University Press has republished the original first edition of Fowler's classic, enhanced with a new introduction by David Crystal, who also examines nearly 300 entries in detail, offers a modern perspective on them, and shows how English has changed since the 1920s.
Lerer, Seth
The History of the English Language
(CD) PE1075.L469 2008x pt. 1, 2, 3
Also available on DVD
This audiobook/DVD is part of the Great Courses Lecture Series and presents lectures on the history of the English language by Professor Seth Lerer at Stanford University. The first part deals with the beginning of English up to Middle English. The second part deals with Shakespeare and the development of Standard English. The last part deals with American English.
Lerer, Seth
Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language
PE1075.L47 2007
Lerer explains how English has always been a changing language and shows how certain authors, such as Shakespeare, Chaucer, and Mark Twain, had great influence on how it developed.
Lynch, Jack
The Lexicographer's Dilemma: The Evolution of 'Proper' English, from Shakespeare to South Park
PE1611.L96 2009
English is fifteen hundred years old but our notions of "proper English" are only around three hundred years old. Lynch traces who came up with the current "rules".
MacNeil, Robert and William Cran
Do You Speak American?
PE2808.M26 2005
(DVD) PE2808.D6 2005x
This was a PBS television series hosted by Robert MacNeil of the MacNeil/Lehrer News Hour that explored American English and its dialects. A companion book is also available.
McCrum, Robert
Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language
PE1075.M57 2010
Learn more about Globish, a basic English using only 1500 words created by Jean-Paul Nerriere for use globally, correct English without the English culture.
McCrum, Robert, William Cran, Robert MacNeil
The Story of English
PE1075.M58 2003 (3rd Edition)
Originally written in tandem with a 1986 TV series (produced by Cran and hosted by MacNeil) and updated in 1992, this introduction to the leading global language traces its evolution, varieties, and debates over its future.
McWhorter, John
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English
PE1075.M597 2008
A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar: Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all?
Teach Yourself Old English
Introduces the form of English spoken and written in England until the twelfth century, teaching vocabulary and grammar via original texts including poems, prose, and historical documents. You never know when it might come in handy!


Words and Vocabulary

  • BBC Routes of English
    A series of programs on English dialects
  • Globish
    Globish is a basic English using only 1500 words that was created by Jean-Paul Nerriere for use globally, so that everyone could learn it quickly and easily.
  • Merriam-Webster (Dictionary)
    Not only the dictionary, but cool informations about words. You can also learn a word a day.
  • OneLook Dictionary: the faster finder
    12,960,939 words in 973 dictionaries indexed. A great source of links to other online dictionaries.
  • Oxford Dictionaries
    This is the website for the Oxford family of dictionaries from England. You can sign up for a word-a-day and look up a word.
  • National Spelling Bee
    Information on the Scripps national Spelling Bee with results and study tips.
  • Schott's Vocab
    Schott’s Vocab is a repository of unconsidered lexicographical trifles — some serious, others frivolous, some neologized, others newly newsworthy compiled by the New York Times columnist Ben Schott. Each day, Schott's Vocab explores news sites around the world to find words and phrases that encapsulate the times in which we live or shed light on a story of note.
    Check at this official worldwide scrabble website to see if a word qualifies in scrabble (for instance, "er"). It also includes a "word builder": input the tiles that you have and word builder will suggest possible words.
  • The Word Detective
    "The Word Detective on the Web is the online version of "The Word Detective", a newspaper column answering readers' questions about words and language. "The Word Detective" is written by Evan Morris and appears in finer newspapers in the U.S., Mexico and Japan."
  • The Word Spy
    This Web site and its associated mailing list are devoted to recently coined words and phrases, old words that are being used in new ways, and existing words that have enjoyed a recent renaissance.
  • World Wide Words
    Learn about brand new words, how words and phrases came about, find out what words in the news mean. International English from a British viewpoint by Michael Quinion, an author and lexicographer.
    Need a dictionary? Look here for a wide selection.


  • English Usage, Style & Composition
    A collection of classic works on English.
    • Elements of Style (1918) by William Strunk Jr.
      good points to remember when writing (like one paragraph to each topic; begin each paragraph with a topic sentence; end it in conformity with the beginning)
    • The King's English
      by H.W. Fowler, 2nd ed. 1908. A classic work from Columbia University's Bartleby Library with such hints as
      "Prefer the familiar word to the far-fetched.
      Prefer the concrete word to the abstract.
      Prefer the single word to the circumlocution.
      Prefer the short word to the long.
      Prefer the Saxon word to the Romance."