1. This Website is designed to support undergraduate courses involving the history of the English language. Certain simplifications have been made, and many of the issues that historians of English argue about have been glossed over. The site will prove useful only in a limited way to specialists.
2. In particular, we have abstracted from issues of dialect and borrowing, for the most part.
3. The site attempts to describe the Old English of the West Saxon dialect around 1000; the Middle English of London around 1400 (Chaucer's English); the Early Modern English of London around 1600 (Shakespeare's English); and, usually, the dialect of Present-Day English called General American.
4. Several texts have been helpful in preparing the site, but the site follows most closely the text currently in use at Furman University in the course on the history of English: C. M. Millward, A Biography of the English Language, 2nd ed. (New York: Harcourt Brace, c1996).
5. In an effort to make the pages quick to download and yet accessible to as many browsers as possible, certain non-standard symbols have been used to represent phonemes. Specifically,
/c</ represents the phoneme spelled ch in chat;
/j</ represents the phoneme spelled dg in bridge;
/s</ represents the phoneme spelled sh in shout;
/z</ represents the phoneme spelled z in azure;
/h/ represents the phoneme spelled ng in sing;
/ô/ represents the phoneme spelled aw in law;
/'/ represents the phoneme ("schwa") spelled u in putt.
The fonts used for these pages are Times New Roman and Symbol. We have found that the symbols þ "thorn" and ð "eth" (both of which represent archaic spellings of the phoneme spelled th in PDE) do not display on some Macintosh computers.
6. The part of the site devoted to spelling is not comprehensive, largely because dialectical differences are not taken into account.
7. It would be surprising if there
were not some errors in this site, attributable either to ignorance or to lapses
in coding. We welcome comments, suggestions, and corrections. E-mail to: email@example.com.