This book traces the remarkable reconfigurations that English lexis has undergone in the past millennium. The vocabulary is studied as an indicator of social change, a symbol reflecting different social dynamics between speech communities, on models of dominance, cohabitation, colonialism and globalisation. * Comprehensive guide to the evolution of the English vocabulary. * Well known passages from literature are used to illustrate the variety of English words. * Accessible discussion of Latin, Greek, Germanic and Norman--French languages. * Contains original research into the make--up of the current lexical core of English.