Where does today's English come from? This book describes the nature of language and language change, and presents a history of the English language from prehistory to the present day, dealing with key topics such as grammar, pronunciation and semantics. The main theoretical and technical concepts of historical linguistics are also explained. Charles Barber uses dozens of familiar texts, including the English of King Alfred, Chaucer, Shakespeare and Addison, to illustrate the state of the English language in different periods and contexts. This is a fascinating book for anyone with an interest in language.