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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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Review:

Who would have thought that a book about the English language 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 rhapsodise about "the colourless 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.

Review:

Not only fascinating but extremely funny (Angus Deayton)

The sort of linguistics I like, anecdotal, full of revelations, and with not one dull paragraph (Ruth Rendell Sunday Times)

A gold mine of language-anecdote, information, curiosity. A suprise on every page... enthralling (Observer)

Delightful, amusing and provoking... A joyful celebration of our wonderful language, which is packed with curiosities and enlightenment on every page (Sunday Express)

A delightful survey - though with its good humour, wealth of anecdote, and boyish enthusiasm, "romp" would be a better word. (David Crystal)

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780688078959: The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

Featured Edition

ISBN 10: 0688078958 ISBN 13: 9780688078959
Publisher: William Morrow & Co, 1990
Hardcover

9780140143058: Mother Tongue: The English Language

Penguin, 1991
Softcover

9781435121683: The Mother Tongue English and how it got that way

Hardcover

9780965316590: The Mother Tongue English & How it Got That Way

Morrow, 2000
Hardcover

9780241130483: Mother Tongue: The English Language

Hamish..., 1990
Hardcover

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