books about English linguistic history
I'm looking for books about the development of the English language over the last centuries. I'm interested in the change of grammar and phonetic in the ages of Old English (about 450 until 1100), Middle English (about 1100 until 1500), Early Modern English (about 1500 until 1750) to Modern English (since about 1750).
Can anyone give recommendations about good material about these topics? It is nearly impossible to find here anything in the libraries or bookstores if you are not in a native English country.
Thanks in advance for you ideas.
The Origin of Language ( http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/6254540/ ) by Merritt Ruhlen - not specific to English, but it might cover some of the points you're interested in.
The Mother Tongue ( http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/13418470/ ) by Bill Bryson: this one's a bit more frivolous (and, in some cases, incorrect), but could be entertaining.
The Professor and the Madman ( http://www.bookcrossing.com/---/3244979/ ) by Simon Winchester is mainly about the development of the Oxford English Dictionary, a process which began in the mid-1800s. As an example of the ways in which the language was (to some degree) standardized, it might fit in with what you're looking for, and it's a fascinating read in its own right.
Hope that's of some help!