Language Contact and the History of English


This course familiarizes students with the study of language contact and the role contact has played in the development of English in the British and Irish Isles from the earliest times to the 19th century. It provides some brief historical background and an introduction to historical sociolinguistics, with an emphasis on the study of language contact. Armed with this knowledge, students will be in a position to tackle issues around the role of language contact in shaping the development of English in the British and Irish Isles. We cover the following topics:

  • The earliest contacts of the Germanic languages
  • The Celtic hypothesis: early influence of Celtic on Old and Middle English
  • Contact with North Germanic, particularly in the Middle English period, but also with reference to Scots
  • The impact of French, both in the Middle English period and later on
  • ‘Celtic Englishes’

Note that this course does not cover the development of English outside of the British and Irish Isles (see LASC10056 Global Englishes), or language contact in the present-day multicultural context (see LASC10085 Dialects of English in Britain and Ireland).

The course is also offered to MSc students, as LASC11154, usually if they are able to pass out of introductory structure courses and have some knowledge of the history of English.

See LASC10105 on DRPS.

About me

I’m Pavel Iosad, and I’m a Senior Lecturer in the department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh. ¶ You can always go to the start page to learn more.



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