English in America
A Linguistic History

The Great Courses
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12 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Defining American English Dialects
Begin with a big-picture overview of the American English dialect map, asking as we explore: What is the difference between a language, a dialect, and an accent? Discover the intricate…
Episode 2 The Foundations of American English
The main English dialect hubs in the new American colonies were centered on Jamestown, New England, and Philadelphia. See how these were influenced by contact with Native American languages, Spanish,…
Episode 3 From English in America to American English
Explore how the English settlers gradually transformed themselves from colonists to American citizens, and how English in America became American English. Myriad dialects began to coalesce, and there was an…
Episode 4 The Rise of American Language Standards
In the 1800s, America began looking inward, not to England, for its language standards. The new norms were recorded in dictionaries, spelling books, and grammars, and celebrated in a profusion…
Episode 5 Where Is General American English?
Our journey continues with the westward expansion of American English, as the New England dialect spreads across the North, the South extends to the Southwest, and people in the middle…
Episode 6 Mapping American Dialects
What do you call a big road where you drive fast: highway, parkway, freeway, or something else? How do you pronounce the word "been": with the vowel in "sit," "see,"…
Episode 7 Ethnicity and American English
America has always been a land of immigrants, and American English has been shaped since its earliest days by contact among immigrants from all over the British Isles and from…
Episode 8 African American English
Explore the indelible linguistic effects of the peoples of African descent who were brought to America as slaves, who went on to develop a richly expressive language variety that today…
Episode 9 Mobility, Media, and Contemporary English
Moving into 20th-century America, examine how changes in movement patterns of peoples, and of information, have affected language change. Consider population movements from rural to urban to suburban--and then back…
Episode 10 The History of American Language Policy
What's the official language of the United States? What should it be? See how American language policies and language attitudes have shifted back and forth over the centuries, from periods…
Episode 11 Latino Language and Dialects in America
In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, America has seen an upsurge in immigration, much as it did at the dawn of the 20th. Investigate the effects of immigrants…
Episode 12 Where Is American English Headed?
Secure as a major player on the world stage, the U.S. can now look inward and focus on the intra-national linguistic and cultural diversity that's been there since English speakers…

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From English in America to American English
Episode 3 of English in America
Explore how the English settlers gradually transformed themselves from colonists to American citizens, and how English in America became American English. Myriad dialects began to coalesce, and there was an explosion of linguistic creativity, especially in the creation of dialect words - Americanisms like "raccoon" and "bifocal".
Mapping American Dialects
Episode 6 of English in America
What do you call a big road where you drive fast: highway, parkway, freeway, or something else? How do you pronounce the word "been": with the vowel in "sit," "see," or "set"? Take a quiz and see where your linguistic usages place you on the American dialect map. Delve into…
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The main English dialect hubs in the new American colonies were centered on Jamestown, New England, and Philadelphia. See how these were influenced by contact with Native American languages, Spanish, French, Dutch, and the West African languages of slaves, and learn about the five stages of development English dialects typically…
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