Professor Simon Horobin

The History of the English Language, especially in the Medieval period. 

Recent publications:

Osbern Bokenham's Lives of the Saints Early English Text Society OS 356 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2020)

Bagels, Bumf, and Buses: A Day in the Life of the English Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2019)

The English Language: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018)

How English Became English: A Short History of a Global Language (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)

Does Spelling Matter? (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013; paperback 2014)

Chaucer’s Language (Palgrave Macmillan 2006; 2nd edition, 2012)

How English became English

Old and Middle English. History of the English Language. Palaeography and the History of the Book.


I have appeared on numerous radio and TV programmes to discuss language issues. Recent appearances include BBC Breakfast TV, BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show, BBC Radio 4 Stephen Fry's English Delight, BBC Sportshour, NPR Here and Now. Recent TV and radio appearances include: Scuffles, Swagger and Shakespeare: The Hidden Story of English for BBC4 and The Future of English  for BBC World Service. A talk I gave at Google is available on YouTube

I have been interviewed for various articles appearing in national newspapers. Recent examples include:

'So Trump makes spelling errors. In the Twitter Age, Whoo Doesn't?' The New York Times

'Trump's covfefe takes hold in the land of the spelling bee' Financial Times

'Spelling it out: is it time English speakers loosened up?' The Guardian

'The true importance of good spelling' BBC Capital

'Why the comma is heading towards its own full stop' The Times

'Autocorrect allows apostrophe to hang on in there' The Times

General Interest articles:

I write a regular column on words 'Word Hoard' for Babel: The Language Magazine

'Stay alert, infodemic, Black Death: the fascinating origins of pandemic terms' The Conversation

'How one proverb became a recurring part of the Brexit debate', Prospect Magazine

'The natural wildness of the English Language', The Economist

'Lost in Translation: 5 common phrases you may be using incorrectly' The Conversation

'What will the English language be like in 100 years?' The Conversation

'Toilet or Lavatory? How words Britons use betray national obsession with class' The Conversation

'Why do we say "sorry" so much?' The Conversation

'Emojis and ambiguity in the digital medium' OUP Blog

'Do we need the apostrophe?' OUP Blog

'Does Spelling Matter?' OUP Blog

'Battels and subfusc: the Language of Oxford' OUP Blog

'Clues, code-breaking, and cruciverbalists: the language of crosswords' OUP Blog

I have published numerous articles on the Oxford Words Blog, including:

'Talking Proper: The Language of U and Non-U'

'From teaspoons to tea-sots': The Language of Tea'

Editorial Work

Consultant, Oxford English Dictionary

Member of Advisory board, Babel: The language magazine

Member of Advisory board, Index of Middle English Prose

Member of Editorial board, The Yearbook of Langland Studies

Member of Editorial board, The Chaucer Review

Member of Editorial board, Poetica

Visiting Appointments

I was Charles Owen Visiting Professor at the University of Connecticut in 2011 and Houghton Mifflin Visiting Fellow at the Houghton Library, Harvard University in 2013.