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Unlike other histories of the English language, this introduction cuts away traditional divisions into old, middle and modern English to chart the rise of and changes in standard English. It covers the English and historical background, changes in phonology, vocabulary and syntax, and offers close analyses of individual texts of English from a wide range of periods. The final chapter focuses on the place of English as a world language and the growing array of the varieties of English spoken today. A useful appendix gives definitions of technical terms and phonetic symbols.