Research Programs: Summer Stipends

Period of Performance

6/1/2008 - 7/31/2008

Funding Totals

$6,000.00 (approved)
$6,000.00 (awarded)

Conflict and Change in the History of English

FAIN: FT-55558-08

Tim Machan
Marquette University (Milwaukee, WI 53233-2225)

I seek a NEH Summer Stipend to complete a book entitled Conflict and Change in the History of English, already contracted by OUP and due at the press in August 2008. The book focuses on how anxiety over language change and variation has consistently produced conflict in the history of the language, and how this anxiety has motivated and underwritten socio-political behavior, ideological formation, and mythological construction--how it has been largely a constant in the Anglophone world. In order to depict and understand this anxiety, my approach to language change is broad, encompassing the grammatical (phonological variation or lexical addition), the pragmatic (discourse conventions and standardization), and the social (language contact and bilingualism). My argument is that outrage over such linguistic features is not really about language but rather uses language as a euphemism for social concerns.

Associated Products

Language Anxiety: Conflict and Change in the History of English (Book)
Title: Language Anxiety: Conflict and Change in the History of English
Abstract: This book looks at the ever-present anxieties associated with language change. Focusing on English from Alfred the Great to the present, Tim Machan offers a fresh perspective on the history of language. He reveals amusing and sometimes disconcerting aspects of our linguistic and social behavior and suggests that anxiety about language has sometimes allowed us to avoid the issues we really find disturbing: when speakers of English worry over grammar, sounds, or words the real source of their anxiety is often not language at all but issues like immigration or social instability.
Year: 2009
Primary URL:
Primary URL Description: Press site
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Type: Single author monograph
ISBN: 9780199232123