The availability of large electronic corpora has caused major shifts in linguistic research, including the ability to analyze much more data than ever before, and to perform micro-analyses of linguistic structures across languages. This has historical linguists to rethink many standard assumptions about language history, and methods and approaches that are relevant to the study of it. The field is w interested in, and attracts, specialists whose fields range from statistical modeling to acoustic phonetics. These changes have even transformed linguists' perceptions of the very processes of language change, particularly in English, the most studied language in historical linguistics due to the size of available data and its status as a global language. The Oxford Handbook of the History of English takes stock of recent advances in the study of the history of English, broadening and deepening the understanding of the field. It seeks to suggest ways to rethink the relationship of English's past with its present, and make transparent the variety of conditions and processes that have been instrumental in shaping that history. Setting a new standard of cross-theoretical collaboration, it covers the field in an invative way, providing diachronic accounts of major influences such as language contact, and typological processes that have shaped English and its varieties, as well as highlighting recent and ongoing developments of Englishes-celebrating the vitality of language change over the centuries and the many contexts and processes through which language change occurs.
Terttu Nevalainen is Professor of English, University of Helsinki. Elizabeth Closs Traugott is Professor Emerita of Linguistics, Stanford University.