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This bestselling text by Charles Barber, with updating contributions from Joan C. Beal and Philip A. Shaw, recounts the history of the English language from its remote ancestry to the present day. Using dozens of familiar texts, including the English of King Alfred, Shakespeare and Chaucer, the English language is explored in terms of where it came from, where it is going, and the global impact it has had, taking into account the many varieties of English that now exist. Stimulating and interesting, it is not only written for specialists on language and linguistics, but also for general readers who take an interest in the subject.