Crack February’s crossword competition to win How English Became English: A Short History of a Global Language, by Simon Horobin.

In all but one of the across clues, subsidiary indications lead to the answer plus one extra letter. In clue order the letters reveal the theme, which solvers should highlight (20 cells). Four down answers are to be entered unusually. Lengths in brackets refer to grid entries.

February 2017 crossword

Across

1. Shaking rattles around flat ultimately producing alarm (7)

6. Woman about to marry a European (5)

10. Playing a piano when consuming drug leads to asphyxia (6)

12. Versatile or agile defender (6)

13. Alliance gives sign of agreement about army’s retreat (4)

15. Run edition with runic character (4)

17. Operatic character falsified transit times (7)

19. Hard case: sleuth starts to see the answer (5)

20. Note produced by trumpet native holds (7)

23. Unaccompanied man swimming Tagus (4)

24. Price paid to secure information that’s convincing (6)

26. Seven accommodated in part of house for wedding (6)

30. Irish boy’s letters returned (4)

31. A Catholic heading for Jerusalem function (6)

32. Bride ecstatic about home, one better than expected (6)

34. Lines from pontiff before Mass (4)

36. Trial area for new state education degree (4,3)

39. Almost soaking old giant (5)

41. Garnished veal roll is finished (3,4)

44. Wrong aisle is to close (4)

46. Group of players upset amateur (4)

47. Property in France is seen by couple (6)

48. Against leaving border in specialised vehicle (6)

49. Starting to stalk game without one’s guns (5)

50. Republican, a trendy — unusually cunning one (7)

Down

1. Deliveryman’s somewhat unpleasant attitude (5)

2. Wine Greek character leaves for opponent (4)

3. Birds, very large, in exotic resort (8)

4. Note by tenor conveying message (4)

5. Self-confidence needed in negotiations (3)

6. Testy husband turned out to be kind (4)

7. Crosses western ocean, upset about depth (5)

8. German article about ultimate tissue protein (7)

9. Explosion of TNT said to be remote (7)

11. African tree one missed from a distance (4)

14. Poet abandoning lake departs for river (4)

16. Bargain, securing horse in good health (6)

18. Ruler turning pale, over a barrel (5)

21. A resting place for Nancy in the shadows (5)

22. Restrict supply of fruit, mostly Italian (5)

24. Woman jocularly throwing small metal plates (6)

25. Disorder can start with entropy about (5)

27. Part of speech with nasty tone is disallowed (8)

28. Demonstration from expert on river (7)

29. Letter about an investigator turned up in film (7)

33. College officer mostly supports independent thought (4)

35. Prospero’s place? (‘Taken from dukedom I languish’) (5)

37. Deceptions from legists hard to resolve (4)

38. Cultivated fellow leaving with protection (5)

40. Musical pieces finally left in church office (4)

42. Solitary portrait painter holding on (4)

43. Scripture not all believed authentic (4)

45. Uniformed leader — King — is overthrown (3)

Image © B Calkins via Shutterstock.