Video: Professor Tim Machan on the Nature of the English Language

Author: Todd Boruff

“How do you define the English language in a very complex world in which native English speakers account for less than a third of the number of people who speak English today?” says Tim Machan, professor of English in Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters.

Machan’s teaching and research interests include both medieval language and literature and historical English linguistics. His recent book, What is English?: and Why Should We Care? (Oxford University Press), explores the definition of the English language and its influence throughout history.

“I’m very much interested in socio-linguistic issues and so I look at various contexts in which English is defined by those who use it and always for some social purpose, never in some sort of abstract way,” says Machan. “It’s been an issue that has animated an awful lot of English history in the last 1,500 years.”

You can also watch this video on YouTube.

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Originally published by Todd Boruff at on April 22, 2014.