A History of the English Language

Overview

This course explores some of the key elements of the history of English: its origins; its development; its vocabulary; changes in meaning; ideas of good and poor uses of language and the different varieties of English. The English language is constantly changing, and a study of its past can give us a better understanding of earlier literature. The course will also look briefly at the future of English. As language users, we are all, consciously or unconsciously, experts in the field, and participants will find they have much to contribute to the class.

Programme details

Seminars meet each weekday morning, with afternoons free for course-related field trips, individual study, or exploring the many places of interest in and around the city.

Monday
Looking at theories on the origins of language; how English fits into the Indo-European family of languages; how English came to the British Isles; a brief survey of the development of modern English.

Tuesday
Vocabulary and word formation – where English words come from, how they are put together and why we use them when and where we do. Using your knowledge of modern English to read medieval and Old English.

Wednesday
How the meaning of words can change over time; does the meaning we see in texts today always reflect the author's original intentions? Looking at Shakespeare and other authors to try and get a better idea of what their words would have meant to their contemporaries.

Thursday
Morning field trip to Oxford English Dictionaries. Who decides what words mean and how they should be used? How dictionaries and language reference books are put together and the influence of language authorities on our ideas of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ English, and slang. Why do we care about correctness?

Friday
Later and current developments in English – where is English heading now? Varieties of English: how we use different types of language in different situations and how English varies in different countries and between written and spoken English. How will the digital world affect English? A chance to follow up topics of particular interest to participants.

Field trip
Destination:  Oxford English Dictionaries  
Website:  www.oed.com/
Excursion rating: Moderate - up to two hours' walk on even ground or up to an hour's walk on rough and/or steep ground or up lots of stairs and steps.

Fees

Description Costs
Fee option 1 (single en suite accom and meals) £1635.00
Fee option 2 (single standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 3 (twin en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 4 (double en suite accom and meals) £1537.50
Fee option 5 (twin set standard accom and meals) £1440.00
Fee option 6 (no accom; incl lunch and dinner) £1120.00

Payment

All fees are charged on a per week, per person basis.

Please be aware that all payments made via non-UK credit/debit cards and bank accounts are subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

Payment terms

  • If enrolling online: full payment by credit/debit card at the time of booking.
  • If submitting an application form: full payment online by credit/debit card or via bank transfer within 30 days of invoice date.

Cancellations and refunds

1. Cancellation by you

Participants who wish to cancel must inform the Programme Administrator in writing: by email to oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk, or by post to The Oxford Experience, OUDCE, 1 Wellington Square, OXFORD, OX1 2JA, UK.

The following cancellation and refund policy applies in all cases:

  • Cancellation within 14 days of online enrolment / payment of fees – full refund of all fees paid.

  • Cancellations received up to and including 30 April 2022 – OUDCE will retain an administration fee of £100 per week booked; all other fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received between 1-31 May 2022 – OUDCE will retain 60% of the fees paid; the remaining 40% of fees paid will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received on and after 1 June 2022 - no refunds will be made.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

2. Cancellation by us

OUDCE reserves the right to cancel a course where there is good reason, for example, if exceptionally low enrolment would make it educationally unviable. In these cases we will refund the course fees that you have already paid. If we cancel a course, our liability is limited to the fees that we have received from you; this means that we will not compensate you for any pre-booked travel costs or any other expenses incurred.

Where course fees have been paid in currencies other than pounds sterling, refunds will be subject to the exchange rate on the day they are processed.

The status of this course will be reviewed on 1 May 2022. If it is likely that the course may be cancelled, all those affected will be notified by email within 7 days; if you have not heard from OUDCE by 8 May 2022, you should assume that your course will be running. You may wish to delay finalising your travel arrangements until after this date.

3. Travel insurance

You need to purchase travel insurance to cover the programme fee, travel costs, and any other expenses incurred.

Tutor

Ms Helen Kemp

Tutor

Helen Kemp has worked in publishing for most of her life, beginning as an editor on The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, and also working on The New Penguin Dictionary 2000. For several years she was Director of Publishing at the National Museums of Scotland. She has also taught Old and Middle English.

Teaching methods

Participants will be taught in seminar groups of up to 12 people. Elements of this teaching will normally include mini lectures and presentations by tutors and tutor-led class discussions.

Assessment methods

There are no assessments for this course.

Application

Registration closes on 1 May 2022.

Please note: most courses fill up fast so early registration is strongly recommended.

Single accommodation and non-residential places may be booked online by clicking on the “Book now” button in the “Course details” box at the top right-hand side of the course page.

If you experience any difficulties enrolling online please contact the Programme Administrator at oxfordexperience@conted.ox.ac.uk

Those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form as these rooms cannot be booked online. Completed forms should be sent:

Level and demands

The Oxford Experience is aimed at non-specialists: no prior knowledge is required, and classes are pitched at an introductory level. The courses are designed for an international audience aged 18 and over.

Accommodation

During your course, you will stay in typical Oxford student accommodation at Christ Church in buildings which range from the 18th to the 20th century.

Participants should note that bedrooms are modestly-furnished, do not have air-conditioning and are arranged on a staircase of four or five floors.

The following types of accommodation are available:

  • Single en suite

  • Single standard

  • Twin en suite

  • Double en suite

  • Standard ‘twin set’.

En suite rooms include private bathroom facilities (shower, washbasin and toilet). Standard rooms have their own washbasin and shaver point but bathroom facilities are shared. ‘Twin sets’ comprise two single rooms opening off a sitting room.

Please note that only single accommodation may be booked online; those requiring twin or double accommodation should complete an application form. (See “Application”.)

Please indicate your accommodation preferences (either online or on your application form), together with a note of any mobility problems.

We regret that we are unable to offer you accommodation at Christ Church prior to or following your course. Additionally, family or friends who are not enrolled in the programme cannot be accommodated in college.

We also offer places on a non-residential basis whereby participants can take classes and have meals (lunch and dinner) at the college, having arranged their own accommodation elsewhere.