The Cambridge History of the English Language: Volume 6, English in North America

Volume VI of The Cambridge History of the English Language traces the history of English in North America from its British background to its present position among the varieties of English used around the globe. The influences that have formed American English include the political, social, and cultural changes in American life, contact with other languages in North America, and continuing immigration from the British Isles and around the globe. In this book, sixteen leading authorities in the field consider how the vocabulary (both standard and slang), grammar, spelling, and usage in both the standard language and regional and social dialects have evolved in response to these influences, and examine the relationship of and interaction between British and American English. Separate chapters deal with African-American English, Canadian English and Newfoundland English and the volume also includes suggestions for further reading, a glossary of linguistic terms, and an extensive bibliography.

• Comprehensive history of English in North America by leading authorities in the field • Includes suggestions for further reading, glossary of linguistic terms, and extensive bibliography • Written with both specialists and non-specialists in mind - essential reading for those interested in the history of English in North America


1. External history John Algeo; 2. British and American, continuity and divergence John Hurt Fisher; 3. British and Irish antecedents Michael Montgomery; 4. Contact with other languages Suzanne Romaine; 5. Americanisms Frederic G. Cassidy and Joan H. Hall; 6. Slang Jonathan Lighter; 7. Dialects Lee Pederson; 8. African-American English Salikoko Mufwene; 9. Grammatical structure Ronald R. Butters; 10. Spelling Richard Venezky; 11. Usage Edward Finegan; 12. Canadian English Laurel J. Brinton and Margery Fee; 13. Newfoundland English William Kirwin; 14. American English abroad Richard Bailey.


‘The entire volume is written in a manner that makes the subject both interesting and attractive. The scholarship is there but is not in a form - so frequent in many linguistic works - that is incomprehensible to non-linguists. The contributors, editor and Cambridge University Press are all to be congratulated on another outstanding contribution to our understanding of what has become the world’s language.’ Contemporary Review

‘Try volume VI of The Cambridge History of the English Language: English in North America, edited with great flair by John Algeo … here you will find a delicious chapter on slang by Jonathan E. Lighter … the most useful part of Cambridge’s monumental effort is the glossary.’ New York Times

‘A work on language as a manifestation of cultures and their changes, English in North America is a magisterial achievement, and a fitting completion of The Cambridge History of the English Language.’ Amerikastudien