Communities of Practice in the History of English
Languages change and they keep changing as a result of communicative interactions and practices in the context of communities of language users. The articles in this volume showcase a range of such communities and their practices as loci of language change in the history of English. The notion of communities of practice takes its starting point in the work of Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger and refers to groups of people defined both through their membership in a community and through their shared practices. Three types of communities are particularly highlighted: networks of letter writers; groups of scribes and printers; and other groups of professionals, in particular administrators and scientists. In these diverse contexts in England, Scotland, the United States and South Africa, language change is not seen as an abstract process but as a response to the communicative needs and practices of groups of people engaged in interaction.