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Having just come across this site, I am finally asking a question that's been on my mind for a while …

I am looking for a book, website or infographic that gives a (relatively) concise, high-level history of our modern English language – something that paints a picture of its sources, geographical roots, and who the people were (and are) that invent words (ex: scribes, poets, words borrowed from other languages, etc).

I value the origins of words quite a bit – but feel I am missing some of the "big picture". Does anyone have any recommendations for someone relatively new to this search?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Bradd Szonye, Kristina Lopez, Hellion, MrHen, MετάEd Oct 4 '13 at 13:57

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Have you tried to search it on Google? Please show your search efforts... This wikipedia link may help : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_English_language – Sweet72 Sep 25 '13 at 17:10
Here's where I disagree (mildly) to the "rule" that OPs should do their own research before asking a question. Life is short; time is precious; and experts, both professional and amateur can save us wear and tear by pointing us in the right direction. Even if the OP WERE to do an online search, s/he would not be familiar with what is good, better, and best of the sources s/he found. That's where knowledgeable experts come in handy, in that they can save the less knowledgeable ones among us from doing unnecessary scutwork. After all, isn't that what colleagues are for, at least in part? – rhetorician Sep 25 '13 at 17:50
I have actually tried searching, but was hoping for some expert advice as well. I did end up buying "The Story of English" by Robert McCrumb based off of Amazon reviews. After I spend some time with it I can re-post how well it did. The Wikipedia article is a great start as well! Thanks! – Reilly Sweetland Sep 26 '13 at 20:29
Also of note: I wish I could close this immediately, but it's going to take some time to see these books, etc. I'll leave it open for additional answers / upvotes and have a reminder set to check back here in 2 weeks. – Reilly Sweetland Sep 26 '13 at 20:38
Whoever marked this as 'primarily opinion-based' has been thoughtful. Yes, all history is 'primarily opinion-based'. Let's go on, all the same. :) – Kris Oct 2 '13 at 12:43

‘The Stories of English’ and ‘The Story of English in 100 Words’, both by David Crystal.

‘The Oxford History of English’, edited by Lynda Mugglestone.

‘A History of the English Language’, edited by Richard Hogg and David Denison].

‘A History of the English Language’ by Albert C Baugh, edited by Thomas Cable.

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I think you can do far worse than Bill Bryson's 'Mother Tongue'. very humorous, as is all of Bryson's work, but this book makes clear that he is able to produce a very well-researched history as well. It may be the starter for which you are looking.

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Not really a starter, as I see the Q. We need the 'big picture', better if it's an infographic. – Kris Jan 11 '14 at 5:42

Melvyn Bragg's "The Adventure of English" is supposed to be good; there was a TV series of it as well (that aired in the UK in 2003).

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