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English Language Research Guide

English Language

This guide should also be helpful to those who wish to further research the history or social aspects of the English language. For technical questions relating to linguistics, you may also want to use the library's guide to linguistics.


To find books in the library, there are two tools you might use:

You might want to try a general keyword search, but the subject headings can also be extremely useful. 

Subject Headings

These are some of the ways books about the English language are described in the CUNY Catalog and OneSearch. 

“English language” is a subject heading in the catalog that unites all the books about the English language.

However, it is a very frequently used heading and is attached to thousands of books. However, it's broken down into subheadings on more specific topics within this broad category. I've listed some of them below, along with a few other subject headings that you may find of interest.

Black English
Communication and technology
English language
English language -- Globalization
English language -- Grammar, Historical
English language -- History
English language -- Lexicography
English language -- Slang
English language -- Standardization
English language -- Social aspects
English language -- Social aspects -- United States
English language -- United States
English language -- Usage
English language -- Variation
Intercultural communication
Language and culture
Language and languages -- Political aspects
Languages in contact
Language policy -- United States
Mass Media and language
Women -- Language

As noted above, these are far from the only headings that you may find useful, but they should give you some idea of what is out there. As you search, you'll find more.

Another strategy for searching for books on topics having to do with the English language is to use the Advanced Search. There, you can combine a subject search for “English language” with a keyword search for whatever else interests you.

Call Ranges

Library of Congress call numbers help us to organize books by subject. Within this system, the letter P at the beginning of a call number represents language and literature. A call number that begins with a P and no other letter is about language and literature generally, while call numbers beginning with the letters PE designate books about the English language.

Within those two ranges, there are some areas that may be of particular interest:

  • P 35                                  Cultural aspects of language
  • P 37 - 39                          Psychological aspects of language
  • P 105 - 112                     General theories of language
  • P 116                               History of language
  • P 119 - 120                     Language and politics
  • P 130                               Language and globalization
  • PE 123 - 279                   Old English and Anglo-Saxon
  • PE 525 - 679                   Middle English
  • PE 1072 - 1095              History of English
  • PE 1571 - 1580              Etymology
  • PE 1620 - 1600              Dictionaries
  • PE 2802 - 2839              American English
  • PE 2841 - 3102              American dialects

Additional Guides