The history and development of English, from the earliest known writings to its status today as a dominant world language, is a subject of major importance to linguists and historians. In this authoritative volume, a team of international experts cover the entire recorded history of the English language, outlining its development over fifteen centuries. With an emphasis on more recent periods, every key stage in the history of the language is covered, with full accounts of standardization, names, the distribution of English in Britain and North America, and its global spread. New historical surveys of the crucial aspects of the language (sounds, word-structure, grammar and vocabulary) are presented, and historical changes that have affected English are treated as a continuing process, helping to explain the shape of the language today. Comprehensive and fully up-to-date, the volume will be indispensable to all advanced students, scholars and teachers in this prominent field.