11 May 2005

From the Bookshelf: Mother Tongue: The English Language by Bill Bryson

Non-Fiction. Paperback from Penguin Books. Published in 1991. Purchased at Blackwell's in Oxford.

Bill Bryson is very witty and his humor helped to make this book into a very enjoyable read. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys linguistics.

Publisher's summary:
'More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to ...'

In this hymn to the mother tongue Bill Bryson examines how a language 'treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants' has now become the undisputed global language (more people learn English in China than live in the USA). He explains how the words shampoo, sofa, slogan, OK and rowdy (and others drawn from over fifty languages) got into our dictionaries and how the major dictionaries were created. He explores the countless varieties of English - from American to Australian, from Creole to Cockney rhyming slang - and the perils of marketing brands with names like Pschitt and Super Piss. With entertaining sections on the oddities of swearing and spelling, spoonerisms and Scrabble, and a consideration of what we mean by 'good English', Mother Tongue is one of the most stimulating books yet written on this endlessly engrossing subject.

To buy from amazon.co.uk, click here: Mother Tongue: The English Language
from amazon.com, click here: The Mother Tongue

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