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The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way By Bill Bryson The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way With dazzling wit and astonishing insight Bill Bryson the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent brilliantly explores the remarkable history eccentricities resilience and sheer fun of the English l

  • Title: The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way
  • Author: Bill Bryson
  • ISBN: 9780380715435
  • Page: 439
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way By Bill Bryson With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience and sheer fun of the English language From the first descent of the larynx into the throat why you can talk but your dog can t , to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproWith dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience and sheer fun of the English language From the first descent of the larynx into the throat why you can talk but your dog can t , to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world s largest growth industries.
    The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way By Bill Bryson

    The Mother Tongue The Mother Tongue English And How It Got That Way Certainly not this grammar allergic reviewer, but The Mother Tongue pulls it off admirably Bill Bryson a zealot is the right man for the job Bill Bryson a zealot is the right man for the job Who else could rhapsodize about the colorless murmur of the schwa with a straight face The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way by Bill Jul , The Mother Tongue is the story of the evolution of the English language, from its humble beginnings as a Germanic tongue to what it has evolved into over the centuries So, Bill Bryson cheap equals insta buy for me, apparently Too The Mother Tongue Adapted for Modern Students Kittredge With nearly pages packed with instruction and practice, The Mother Tongue, Adapted for Modern Students is suited for classroom, homeschool, or self study settings It is also an excellent grammar reference book. Family Affair The Mother Tongue TV Episode Feb , Directed by William D Russell With Brian Keith, John Williams, Kathy Garver, Anissa Jones Buffy Jody s new friend at school has them doing things differently When Marilyn visits, Bill and French learn she speaks only Mandarin, and the kids communicate through child speak French tries his rusty mandarin and insults her. Mother Tongue Definition of Mother Tongue by Merriam Mother tongue definition is one s native language How to use mother tongue in a sentence. A Monument to the Mother Tongue National Endowment for For the English, Johnson s Dictionary was something else a great monument to the mother tongue, as epic in its own way as the skyline of London itself Johnson s work as a Shakespeare scholar, as well as his massive critical survey of English verse, The Lives of Bring Me The Horizon mother tongue Lyrics Genius Lyrics According to Jordan Fish, mother tongue is the spiritual successor of Drown The track is a love song dedicated to Oliver Sykes wife, Alissa Salls. Mother Tongue, by Amy Tan It s my mother tongue Her language, as I hear it, is vivid, direct, full of observation and imagery That was the language that helped shape the way I saw things, expressed things, made sense of the world Lately, I ve been giving thought to the kind of English my mother speaks.

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    One thought on “The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

    1. Ceci on said:

      The one thing that bothered me the most about this book was a huge error it had on swearwords, in reference to my mother tongue Finnish p 210, Ch Swearing, in my Penguin paperback Some cultures don t swear at all The Finns, lacking the sort of words you need to describe your feelings when you stub your toe getting up to answer a phone at 2.00 a.m rather oddly adopted the word ravintolassa It means in the restaurant I mean, what the hell We Finns have probably the world s most colourful collectio [...]

    2. Michael on said:

      I have to share my discontent with the world after keeping the words bottled up inside me for so long.I bought this book about two or three years ago, thinking it might be an entertaining read that might fill me in on some of the historical aspects of the English language I had already read A Short History Of Nearly Everything , and, knowing nothing about science, thought it was a rather entertaining read, even though I had some well, doubts about the book since I tend to favour systematic and [...]

    3. Dan Schwent on said:

      The Mother Tongue is the story of the evolution of the English language, from its humble beginnings as a Germanic tongue to what it has evolved into over the centuries.So, Bill Bryson cheap equals insta buy for me, apparently Too bad even Bill Bryson couldn t make this terribly entertaining.I have a long history as the obscure facts guy at social gatherings, at least, I did when people still invited me to such things However, even I had trouble sticking with this one at times.Old Bill is in fine [...]

    4. Punk on said:

      Non fiction Published in 1990, this book is already a little out of date In its first pages, Bryson reports OED editor Robert Burchfield s theory that American English and British English are drifting apart so rapidly that within two hundred years we won t be able to understand each other That was a theory made back when cell phones still required a battery the size of an unabridged dictionary, long before the internet became such a large part of the way the world communicates, in a time when yo [...]

    5. Cassidy on said:

      I know exactly a little bit about English, and a little bit less about linguistics in general Studied a few foreign languages, took a linguistics class or two in college I m what you might call a big fan of language A dabbler Certainly not an expert But boy, did I find this book infuriating.My problem with this book is that it gets so much right, and so much wrong The example that really set me off was his treatment of the Welsh language To Bryson, Welsh is as unpronounceable as it looks , and W [...]

    6. Julie (jjmachshev) on said:

      What a hilarious, fascinating, and educational look at our wacky, wonderful, and WAY complicated language If English is your mother tongue, this book will amaze and amuse you with interesting tidbits about just how our language evolved into the wonder it is If you had to learn English as a second language and power to you , then bless your heart for taking on the task You will read this book, and say YES, absolutely, I always wondered, etc Bill Bryson turns his sharp eyes to The Mother Tongue a [...]

    7. PattyMacDotComma on said:

      1 DNF I thought this would be fun I love words and languages and have a passing interest in linguistics I started this with enthusiasm and was enjoying his breezy style until it occurred to me that a lot of what he was saying seemed to be anecdotal You know, limited or no research Then I thought, well, it was written than 25 years ago, so things that sounded like old stories to me may have been new stories then like this one The Eskimos, as is well known, have fifty words for types of snow thou [...]

    8. Rebecca on said:

      I teach English as a foreign language but other than that linguistics and language learning is just a hobby, having said that, I know enough Irish, German, Czech, Russian and Spanish to know that the things he said about these languages are half truths or complete and utter codswallop For example claiming that the German preposition suffix auf is unusual among foreign words in that it has than one meaning anyone who has spent any time learning a language will tell you that all of them have word [...]

    9. Phrynne on said:

      I always enjoy a Bill Bryson book I love his sense of humour and the way he can turn the driest subject into something entertaining Of course that does mean you cannot believe a word of it since he is always looking for the most shocking or the most amusing way to present each topic Why ruin a good joke with the truth So if you are looking for an erudite and trustworthy account of the development of the English language I am sure there are many very worthy tomes out there This is just for fun an [...]

    10. Aleksi on said:

      Bryson s book on the English language is a compendium of linguistic trivia interspersed with the author s biased and misinformed musings on the history and features of the language Published in 1990, the book was written before Internet changed the way the world communicates and hence a lot of the content regarding the spread of languages is hopelessly outdated by now.Bryson is not a linguist, neither is he a historian Therefore his attempts to explain the popularity and status of English as the [...]

    11. Ceridwen on said:

      Sorry Mr Bryson, but as a historical linguist of English myself, I cannot take this book seriously There are simply too many mistakes that have no place in a well researched book The subject matter is not that hard, so I can only guess The Mother Tongue was written in such a hurry that you only consulted one or two sources, where it should have been five or six The history of English is not something you learn from reading one textbook there is a lot of ongoing research and debate And most of yo [...]

    12. Robert on said:

      I picked this up thinking that Bryson had, in my experience, always been entertaining, witty and informative and that this was a topic of much interest to me, so how could I go wrong Well, a sample of two is not enough to go on, apparently because this turned out disappointing, for two primary reasons 1 It was first published in 1990 and it has not aged well Some statistics are well out of date, Bryson using a figure of 56 million for the population of Britain, with 60 million accurate at the t [...]

    13. Manybooks on said:

      I know and I do even realise that Bill Bryson is an entertaining author and that he seems to be much loved and appreciated by many However, I for one have found his general tone of voice and the boastful, arrogant demeanour he constantly seems to present and spew in The Mother Tongue extremely off putting and really at best massively condescending, with his claims regarding the supposed superiority of the English language both unacademic and yes, profoundly bigoted and stereotyping and as such a [...]

    14. Silvana on said:

      English is one crazy language As a person who is not a native speaker, this book is very insightful in terms of how the most globalized language developed and is still developing It is similar with how history s made, there were wars, migrations, proliferation of mass media, the making of dictionaries, public figures making their own linguistic marks and complete fools of themselves , class and regional divisions, and so on and so forth Bryson is a funny guy I think I have read at least two of h [...]

    15. Stephanie on said:

      Is the fact that my grandfather gave me this book reason enough to keep reading Some of the stories are interesting, and even reasonably factual, but at other times the failed fact checking is glaringly obvious and come on, the perpetuation of the Eskimo Snow Myth I think the lesson here is that as a linguist, I should not be reading popular writings about language It s true that there are a thousand interesting things to encounter in the history of the English language, replete as it is with si [...]

    16. James Hartley on said:

      This is a good, concise, erudite, readable over view of the history, present and future of the English language Bryson is a funny man and a witty writer and this book ranges from the first recorded sentence in English This she wolf is a reward to my kinsman to Cockney rhyming slang, though palindromes, anagrams and the politics of spelling Recommended to anyone with any interest in our weird, wonderful, ever evolving mother tongue.

    17. Peter Macinnis on said:

      I m a writer, and I don t hold with slam dunking other writers in print, because they can t reply In a open medium like this, I am prepared to serve Bryson as he serves others, but with a little less barren pedantry.It s an excellent book, but like so many foreigners, Bryson thinks a quick tour makes him an expert on all things Australian WRONG We don t say cookie, we say biscuit Getting that wrong is clumsy.We don t normally say labor , we call it labour The sole exception is in the name of th [...]

    18. Bob on said:

      Mother Tongue The English Language, by Bill Bryson, London Penguin Books, 1990 link is to a different, in print edition.Summary This amusing and informative book surveys the history of the English language and all its vagaries and perplexities of word origins, spellings, and pronunciations and why it has become so successful as a world language.Has it every occurred to you how many different meanings there are for the word fly It can be an insect, a means of travel, a verb form of to flee , some [...]

    19. Anne on said:

      Why was this book even published There are so many errors, inaccuracies, misconceptions, misunderstandings and whatnot, I don t even know where to begin And I m not even a linguist All of this makes me question all the other facts I don t know anything about, I simply don t know if I ve learned about them from reading this book.The Acknowledgements of the book mentions several people, but I hope for their sake that he didn t follow their advice Otherwise they should receive a dishonorable menti [...]

    20. Charity on said:

      Did you know that drumstick was coined in the 19th century because polite society could not bring itself to utter the word leg Or that Shakespeare gave us no less than 1700 new words including barefaced, frugal, dwindle, and summit Bill Bryson, an American transplanted to England, traces the history of English on both sides of the Atlantic He explains the evolutionary accident that altered the human larynx and enabled us to speak He traces the origins of English s naughtiest words, and offers a [...]

    21. Michael on said:

      Recently I read Made In America by Bill Bryson, so I thought it would be appropriate to read Mother Tongue as well Though there was a fair chunk of similar information in both books, Mother Tongue is just relevant While Made in America focused on the history of English in America Mother Tongue focuses mainly on the history of English in general Trying to cover questions like, Why is there a u in four and not in forty or Why do we tell a lie and tell the truth Bill Bryson does a great job of tea [...]

    22. Trevor on said:

      You know, there are probably better books on the history of the English language, there are probably deeper books on the nature of linguistics, there are probably a million reasons why you might not read this book but it tackles something that we all ought to be interested in, our mother tongue, with style, flare and humour Bryson says in this that he had his mum sending him newspaper cuttings that is such a lovely image I read this years ago, tried to read it to the kids at night, but they were [...]

    23. Negin on said:

      When it comes to Bill Bryson, I tend to prefer his travelogues Although The Mother Tongue is not a travelogue, I enjoyed it greatly It s a fascinating and, as is usually the case with Bryson, entertaining account of evolution of the English language I don t consider myself a word or language nerd at all, yet I loved all the trivia, such as those that I ve quoted below The only reason that I m giving it 4 stars rather than 5 is that it s a bit dated It was written in 1990 before the internet age [...]

    24. Corrielle on said:

      I am an English teacher I like grammar It fascinates me I like knowing big words and little words and word histories and word games Being at a computer with access to the online version of the OED Oxford English Dictionary can provide me with endless hours of amusement So, this book was a treat for me Bill Bryson writes with an exuberance and excitement about what English and language in general is capable of that is infectious and uplifting Though it is not a comprehensive history of the Englis [...]

    25. Darcy Leech on said:

      As a language lover, The Mother Tongue is fun and informative I read this for my college rhetoric class, and fell in love with the enjoyable read with knowledge worthy of an upper level college English class Bryson s true gift is in making the nature of linguistics both understandable and relevant The author has fun playing with words I laughed out loud multiple times The best chapter is the one on what is considered obscene language, not because it feels good to curse, but because it increases [...]

    26. Naomi on said:

      I managed perhaps thirty pages of this and gave up I hadn t read a Bryson book before it s unlikely I shall ever attempt another.Many of the facts in the book sounded suspicious so I started looking them up elsewhere and found a great many to be wrong I looked at the one and two star reviews on and found that many other people had found this too Some people giving favourable reviews said that they weren t put off by it it had been an entertaining read anyway.I gave up there s no point in learnin [...]

    27. Jess on said:

      Bryson writes from a very specific kind of perspective, one that is not quite self aware of his privilege as a white man out in the world I love books on linguistics, etymology, and language, but this one felt so problematic His humor troubled me in this book because it felt clouded by inherent racism I recognize this book was originally published in 1991, but we forget just how easily people forsake their tongues as the Celts did in Spain and France, as the Vikings did in Normandy, and as the I [...]

    28. Angus McKeogh on said:

      I might be a bit biased on this one because I love books about language, language development, and language evolution However it was chock full and likely had the story behind and the source of this phrase of great details and tidbits previously the offensive titbits related to everything from the source of words, to spellings, and pronunciations Fascinating how our language has changed through the years into what we see today Presents the pros and cons of the language discusses the aspects tha [...]

    29. Jill on said:

      I got this book from Madonna.Loving every page of this book, as it really keeps rolling on and keeps getting and interesting.However, I have to be fair to Steve who said something to the effect of it was the same thing over and over again every page The English Language is f ed up blah blah blah look how f ed up the English Language is blah blah blah here s another example of how f ed up English is, as a language blah blah blah etc He s totally right That s exactly the book, in a nutshell But [...]

    30. Clouddancer on said:

      I d had great hopes for this book, yet I never got beyond the first chapter simply because of the hideously large number of factual errors popping up on each page The one thing this book is good at is sadly the perpetuation of myths, false beliefs and urban legends among the general public As a fledgeling linguist I would give it a minus 1 rating if I could.

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