You can click on the image to download a PDF version of the workshop slideshow.


Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language

by Seth Lerer
The complete story of the English language, told briskly but in wonderful detail.

The Mother Tongue

by Bill Bryson
A more irreverent look at the history and eccentricities of English.

Word on the Street: Debunking the Myth of a "Pure" Standard English

by John McWharter
Just what the title says. Funny, fascinating, and challenging.

Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling

by David Wolman
A tour through the history of spelling and spelling reform

How We Talk: American Regional English Today

by Allan Metcalf
"A talking tour of American English, region by region."

How Language Works

by David Crystal
"How babies babble, words change meaning, and languages live or die."

The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language

by Steven Pinker
An in-depth look at the evolutionary adaptation of language use and how we create language in the moment. Incredible book, but on the more challenging side.

The Great CourseS

Offers an amazing collection of lectures from university professors of all disciplines. They are available to buy as CDs and DVDs, to download, and to stream. Many libraries have them. (The Beverly Hills Public Library has a huge collection.)

The two lectures below are highly recommended.

History of the English Language

36 Lectures
by Professor Seth Lerer

"Sixteen centuries ago a wave of settlers from northern Europe came to the British Isles speaking a mix of Germanic dialects thick with consonants and complex grammatical forms. Today we call that dialect Old English, the ancestor of the language nearly one in five people in the world speaks every day."

Story of Human Language

36 Lectures
by Professor John McWharter

Dr. John McWhorter, one of America's leading linguists and a frequent commentator on network television and National Public Radio, addresses these and other questions as he takes you on an in-depth, 36-lecture tour of the development of human language, showing how a single tongue spoken 150,000 years ago has evolved into the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today.