Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why Did English Stop Changing? Let's Blame the Book of Common Prayer

From The Atlantic-

I mentioned recently the grooves that the Book of Common Prayer had laid down in my brain -- as, it appears, it has done across much of the Anglosphere.

Americans may underestimate the extent of this one book's reach. In the United States, Thomas Cranmer's 16th-century prose would be known mainly to the handful of people who are Episcopal Church members -- and, of them, to the subset who use the "old style" prayer book. But in England it was part of mainstream culture as the language of the state-established Church of England. Something similar applies in other former British colonies. For instance, Australia has barely one-twelfth as many people as America does, but it has nearly twice as many Anglicans/ Episcopalians who would know Cranmer's prose.

A reader in Australia writes to speculate on some other effects of this 463-year-old book -- and that's the title page of the 1549 edition at right:

More here-


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