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August 17 , 2009

Cannibal – The language and history of THE DISCOVERY OF THE NEW WORLD:

From Columbus and Cabot to Amerigo Vespucci (1440–1515) – Book 1 –


The combined focus of this series is, of course, the history of America and the history of American English. This first book, Cannibal (call it a prequel) sets the scene for European conquest of America – North and South – and reminds us of the race between Columbus and Cabot to reach the Orient, as well as the unintended results that changed the course of history for people on two disparate continents. 

It is important to remember that history of America does not begin with the declaration of independence in 1776, it does not begin with the Puritans and Massachusetts Bay Company in 1630, nor does it begin out of a vacuum in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. The first Europeans to set up a lasting settlement in North America were the Spanish and Spanish was spoken in Florida more than half a century before the first permanent English-speakers settlers arrived. As will be described in Roanake, Book 2 in the series, the Plymouth pilgrims endured months of travel to cross the ocean and reach New England, only to meet a local native within months of arriving living in their area who had crossed the Atlantic more than four times, who spoke English, had been to Spain and lived in London – all before the pilgrims themselves had even left Leyden in the Netherlands. 

This first book is powerful in setting up the scene and context for the circumstance that led the English to look west across the seas in the first place. It reveals that a lot explosive change took place well before the English arrived in Virginia and details how a flood of new words entered the English language from America in the century before this time and how America got its name. This book also presents the theory that English, indeed, actually was the first European language spoken in America after all … 

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