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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
Destination: Oxford English Dictionaries
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.