Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue is a hymn to the English language. In examining how a second-rate, mongrel tongue came to be the undisputed language of the globe, Bryson explores English from America to Australia and looks at, among other things, swearing, spelling, spoonerisms and Scrabble. No self-respecting English speaker should open his mouth ...
Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue is a hymn to the English language. In examining how a second-rate, mongrel tongue came to be the undisputed language of the globe, Bryson explores English from America to Australia and looks at, among other things, swearing, spelling, spoonerisms and Scrabble. No self-respecting English speaker should open his mouth without reading it.
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Bryson gives an informative, light-hearted view of our crazy language and how it evolved and is still evolving today.
Well worth the time and effort to read.
Aug 18, 2007
Bill's tongue and ours
Bill Bryson is not just a writer but a former newspaperman. He brings a journalist's eye to what he writes about and is not afraid of facts and figures. He takes the history of the English language and makes it interesting. This isn't a scholarly journal filled with phrases and abbreviations only known to graduate students. It is very readable and understandable and when you're finished, you feel you've learned something in an enjoyable way.
Publishers Weekly, 1991-08-02 Bryson's blend of linguistic anecdotes and Anglo-Saxon cultural history proves entertaining but superficial. ``While his historical review is thorough. . . he mostly reiterates conventional views about English's structural superiority,'' said PW. ``He retells old tales with fresh verve . . . but becomes sloppy when matters of rhetoric and grammar arise.'' (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Publishers Weekly, 1990-05-18 Linguistics as pop science: Mario Pei's works, such as The Story of Language , have shown how this formula can fascinate, and Bryson's ( The Lost Continent ) blend of linguistic anecdote and Anglo-Saxon cultural history likewise keeps us turning pages. Depth of treatment is not, however, to be found here. Bryson, who wants to see comedy in the English language's quest for hegemony in the modern world, strives for entertaining ironies. While his historical review is thorough, replete with enlightening scholarly citations, he mostly reiterates conventional views about English's structural superiority, asserting that the language dominates the globe today by virtue of its lack of inflection and its ``democratic'' suppleness in accommodating new forms. He retells old tales with fresh verve, and his review of the spelling reform movement has particular merit, but Bryson becomes sloppy when matters of rhetoric and grammar arise, e.g., ``He Shakespeare even used adverbs as nouns, as with `that bastardly rogue,' '' and in presenting his opinions (Samuel Johnson's prose is deemed ``rambling''). BOMC main selection . (July)
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