Episode 139: The Business of Printing

William Caxton introduced the mass production of books to England in the 1470s. He was also the first person to print books in the English language via the printing press. Caxton’s publications reveal the priorities and concerns of a businessman, not those of a linguist or scholar. In this episode, we explore Caxton’s contribution to the history of English, and we examine the impact of the printing press on the development of the English language.


4 thoughts on “Episode 139: The Business of Printing

  1. I’ve been enjoying your podcasts very much. I’ll have to check out the extra bits in the patreon section. 🙂 The early songs (101) is so far my favourite, but the scatological words podcast was entertaining as well! The ones in which you discuss spelling and how and why the spellings developed are great and helpful to understand the evolution of the language. Of course, hearing OE and ME being spoken is great. Being a history geek, I _really_ enjoy all of the actual history narrative the best, from the IndoEuropeans to the Britons, Saxons, Norse and Normans. It is all wonderful! Thanks for sharing your gifts of language with us.

  2. Upon listening to this episode (again), it struck me as odd that Gutenberg excluded runes from his letter set. Why had the runes already been dropped from German, but not from English?

    • I don’t know enough about the history of German spelling to give you a good answer, but I would suggest that English writers no longer thought of letters like thorn and wynn as runic letters by the late Middle English period. Those letters had been taken from the runic alphabet, but wynn had disappeared, and thorn was firmly established as an English letter by that point.

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