Winchester Plays Key Role as Academics Launch Book on History of English Language

SOUTHERN DAILY ECHO: Winchester academics have released an in-depth look at the history of the English language as they push for a dedicated museum in the city. 

Prof Bill Lucas and Prof Christopher Mulvey have written A History of the English Language in 100 Places, a look at how English has developed over centuries.  Winchester is among the most significant locations because of its links with King Alfred, who played a key role in the evolution of the language.

Other places featured include Stratford, birthplace of Shakespeare, several parts of London, the USA, West Africa and Scandinavia.

The pair have eProf Bill Lucas and Prof Christopher Mulvey have written A History of the English Language in 100 Places.ach written several books individually and are part of the English Project, which is trying to set up and English language museum in the city. Prof Lucas said: “There were two drivers behind this. The first is we were both largely influenced by Neil MacGregor's A History of the World in 100 Objects, which really appealed to us. “The second is this is something that could be the first floor of an English language museum. It would be a really good way interactively to tell the story of the places that have shaped the language.”

Prof Mulvey added: “Half a billion people speak it as a native tongue and there are around 1.5billion who range from being highly fluent to being able to say hello.”

The English Project is looking at River Park Leisure Centre as a possible site for the museum and the pair have not given up on securing the location. Prof Lucas said: “There is uncertainty about what will happen there and our own sense is if the forensic examination of the possible bones of King Alfred reveals it is him, then suddenly the reasons for having an English Project museum there would become overwhelming.  “We would see Alfred being a seminal link between that site and our museum.”

He added: “I think the autumn is integral and when we hear news on the bones we will have clearer signs over what will happen there. But we have to do something on that site and we have a very clear plan on what we would do if we had the land.”

As previously reported by the Chronicle, the museum would contain exhibitions on the language, local history and a touring exhibition.

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