Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language

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9780141040080: Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language
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'More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to...' Only Bill Bryson could make a book about the English language so entertaining. With his boundless enthusiasm and restless eye for the absurd, this is his astonishing tour of English. From its mongrel origins to its status as the world's most-spoken tongue; its apparent simplicity to its deceptive complexity; its vibrant swearing to its uncertain spelling and pronunciation, Bryson covers all this as well as the many curious eccentricities that make it as maddening to learn as it is flexible to use. Bill Bryson's classic Mother Tongue is a highly readable and hilarious tale of how English came to be the world's language.

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Who would have thought that a book about English would be so entertaining? 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. Who else could rhapsodize about "the colorless murmur of the schwa" with a straight face? It is his unflagging enthusiasm, seeping from between every sentence, that carries the book.

Bryson displays an encyclopedic knowledge of his topic, and this inevitably encourages a light tone; the more you know about a subject, the more absurd it becomes. No jokes are necessary, the facts do well enough by themselves, and Bryson supplies tens per page. As well as tossing off gems of fractured English (from a Japanese eraser: "This product will self-destruct in Mother Earth."), Bryson frequently takes time to compare the idiosyncratic tongue with other languages. Not only does this give a laugh (one word: Welsh), and always shed considerable light, it also makes the reader feel fortunate to speak English.

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780380715435: The Mother Tongue - English And How It Got That Way

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ISBN 10:  0380715430 ISBN 13:  9780380715435
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks, 1990
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9780688078959: The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

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9781435121683: The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

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9780241130483: The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way

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