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276 Reviews symbol of the "political" goal for humanity on earth' (p. 213), of earthly justice restored under the guidance of the Emperor, whilst the mUlenarian and apocalyptic imagery of these cantos also looks forward to the renewal of the Empire under a future Augustus before the coming of Antichrist and the end of the world. To this book John Scott has brought his detailed knowledge of Dante's works and of Dante scholarship over the last four decades or so, assimUating and distilling the results of his own and others' research, assessing and debating the major themes and problems, and providing new insights and perspectives, in a judicious and clearly written analysis which can be read with profit and enjoyment not only by seasoned dantisti but also by students just embarking on their study of the Purgatorio and by all who are interested in Dante and the poUtical issues of his time. Peter Armour Royal Holloway College University of London Smith, Jeremy, An Historical Study of English: Function, Form Change, London and N e w York, Routledge, 1996; paper; pp. xvii, 225; R.R.P. US$19.95. Who needs another history of EngUsh? I think we might aU need one, because this one takes a new approach: i t doesn't merely record a succession of linguistic changes, but sets out to explain them. I t is a true history rather than a chronicle: i t attempts to show h o w the discipline of EngUsh historical linguistics might be pursued' with students who want to know not just what has happened to EngUsh in the last thousand years or so, but why (p. xi). The contention is that linguistic change is not some inexpUcable mystery: i t is the result of an observable combination of factors, some internal, some external; that these factors have a dynamic relationship, each influencing and being influenced by the other(s); that changes, though (usuaUy) unplanned, are not directionless; and that changes have a chain reaction or snowbaU effect, one smaU change leading to another, that to another, and so on. As in chaos theory, order emerges from apparent disorder. Reviews 277 W h y did inflections more or less die out? What caused the Great Vowel Shift (in fact a whole series of shifts occurring for different reasons in different parts of the country)? Where did she come from (a question I've been struggling with for years and to which I have not seen a more inteUigible answer than the one Smith offers)? W h y didn't the language of Henryson and Dunbar become the standard in Scotland? Where did EngUsh get its phrasal verbs? H o w did i f change from a mainly synthetic to a mainly analytic language? W h y did word-order become fixed? H o w and why do words change their meanings? W h y did Textura script give way to Anglicana, and that in turn to Secretary (before the printing press carried aU before i t ) ? W h y was grammatical gender replaced by natural? These are the sorts of question Smith poses; the answers (though necessarily pretty technical attimes)are in general clear and convincing; and some of them are new. Amongst the book's most attractive qualities are the author's good humour—'in the world of postmodernism even Uterary research is no longer ( i f i t ever was) something to be pursued in one's bath'—(p. x) and hisfrequentuse of present-day examples. These include brief comments on Glaswegian word-usage, e.g., gingerforany kind of fizzy drink (p. 117), and on Scouse pronunciation as a combination of Northern EngUsh vowel sounds (strut rhyming with foot) and Irish consonants (the initial sound in three and the final one in truth, pp. 84 86), as well as the complete chapter devoted to two contemporary non-standard varieties, Scots and London Jamaican (a good way to prevent the book'sfocusfrombeing entirely anglocentric). There are, too, his clear pedagogic iterations of the book's main points, such as this,fromthe chapter on grammatical change: tout se tient: everything is connected to everything else. Th relationship between Old English and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1832-8334
Print ISSN
0313-6221
Pages
pp. 276-279
Launched on MUSE
2013-04-03
Open Access
No
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