Friday Videos Love the History of English

A long time ago, in college, I took a course on the History of the English Language. Of all the over priced textbooks I bought, that and my Riverside Shakespeare were the ones I still have, four moves and many states later. The history of language in general (I also read a biography of Yiddish, which was also really fascinating) is pretty amazing, and English is a weird language, too. It has among the largest lexicons of languages in use today (if not still the largest – it was the largest back in college, har har) and sound shifts have made is an inconsistently pronounced language, too. I always want to start comforting people who apologize for their English when they're still learning, because English is hard, yo. 

So this video from Elizabeth S. was all of my catnip. You may have seen it, but if not, hope you enjoy: 


I hope your weekend is linguistically awesome! 


Friday Videos

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  1. 1
    Mzcue says:

    Hands down that is the best thing I’ve seen all week.

    It’s as if John Cleese decided to recount the history of English.

    May ask for the title of the biography of Yiddish you have? I’d love to give it to my father, who grew up with the language and misses it.

  2. 2
    LAS says:

    For anyone interested, here are some free books that I have come across on the history of English.  They are all available for download in various different formats from ‘Many Books.’

    English As We Speak It in Ireland by P.W. Joyce

    A Cursory History of Swearing by Julian Sharman

    Literary Blunders by Henry B. Wheatley

  3. 3
    azteclady says:

    That was absolutely fantastic!

    Thank you, I needed this.

  4. 4
    laj says:

    Great video! Thank you.

  5. 5
    roserita says:

      Hail the Riverside Shakespeare shout-out!  Also recommend Bill Bryson’s “Mother tongue” and “Made in America.”  (One of my favorite college courses was History of the English language, so fellow language geek here.)

  6. 6
    jimthered says:

    Very cool!  I could see this as an extended sequence if they ever re-re-redo THE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY.

  7. 7
    Linda says:

    That was AMAZING!!  Much better than the text from my college course in English history. Can’t wait to check out both the Open U and others’ book recs.

  8. 8
    SB Sarah says:


    Of course!

    The first one I read was Yiddish: A Nation of Words which was fascinating, because it talked about how Yiddish was born, how it blended languages and was the language that held Jews together across disparate cultural divides (and ultimately made way for Hebrew to be the official language of Israel).

    The other one that I didn’t finish (I think my loan at the library expired) was Outwitting History, about a man who rescued Yiddish books.

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