The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way

[EPUB] ✺ The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way ✽ 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 Tongue English MOBI ☆ 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 The Mother PDF/EPUB ² talk but your dog can't to the fine lost art of swearing Bryson Mother Tongue English and How ePUB Æ tells the fascinating often uproarious story of an inadeuate 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

Tongue English MOBI ☆ William McGuire Bill Bryson OBE FRS was born in Des Moines Iowa in He settled in England in and worked in journalism until he became a full time writer He lived for many years with his English wife The Mother PDF/EPUB ² and four children in North Yorkshire He and his family then moved to Mother Tongue English and How ePUB Æ New Hampshire in America for a few years but they have now returned to live in the UKIn The Lost Continent Bil.

The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way PDF/EPUB
  • Paperback
  • 270 pages
  • The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way
  • Bill Bryson
  • English
  • 14 May 2014
  • 9780380715435

10 thoughts on “The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way

  1. says:

    I have to share my discontent with the world after keeping the words bottled up inside me for so longI 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 precise literature over a tapestry of facts with entertainment and jokes woven in I also believe this to be one of the few books I have on my Goodreads shelves worthy of one star onlyWhy? Before I start let me tell you two things it has been a long time since I read the book so my memory may not be as fresh any The second thing I would like to mention is that I have some kind of idea about linguistics but am not a linguist; where I am however a kind of expert is in the study of foreign languages I am therefore intimately acuainted with the workings of many foreign languages though almost all of them are European I have also rather extensively studied the historical connections between languages and their classification in language families and so onIt is painfully obvious that Bryson speaks no foreign languages Fine Neither does Chomsky and he knows a thing or two about linguistics You don't have to be a multilingual prodigy to study linguistics after all But I digressBryson makes the same mistake most monolingual speakers of any language make they think of their language as something uniue Bryson tries to justify the popularity of the English language not with historical or political arguments because I am sure that the colonization of a significant part of the world by the British Empire and the subseuent cultural and political hegemony of the United States had nothing to do with it nooo English is magic but rather seems to believe that English has through some kind of divine intervention been miraculously endowed with characteristics that have made it beat the other languages as if linguistics were some kind of free market economy where the best product gets the biggest share of the marketBryson then tries to argue the point with facts that are while true for the most part totally irrelevant Seriously this is like reading a paper by a student who's been watching one too many linguistic uiz shows on ITV if such a thing existed; someone who likes to read trivia sections and then pieces together the information obtained therefrom and tries to pass it off as knowledge to people unfortunate enough to be ignorant than him One fact that makes the English language so great he says is that it has so many words than all the other languages How many words a language has Bill is not only something that cannot accurately be ascertained but also something that is completely irrelevant Why? In brief language create composita in a different way for instance; so where you might create a million different random words in German in other languages you have to link them together meaning you will have less dictionary hits Not that that has any bearing on the uality of the language Some languages even HAVE to make words because they have agglutinative ualities such as Hungarian and Turkish; meaning they lump prefixes suffixes and other elements together creating big lump words Also English is the dominant language of science; as such a lot of the scientific vocabulary is included in dictionaries Not that these words are usually English except for the newer sciences like computer science of course; they often come from Latin or Ancient Greek anyway There are also dictionaries being produced in English on account of it being popular and the commercial production of English being viable As such its lexicography can be assumed to be advanced Word count is as irrelevant as the number of brain cells or the size of the brain with regards to intelligenceThis is my biggest beef with Bill's book At one point I had to stop reading I should read it again and reiterate some of the other numerous arguments Bill Bryson puts forward in favour of the English language I can only advise the author to commit himself to the study of foreign languages for a while and to understand that fun facts no matter how objectively true they are don't always have the meaning or significance someone thinks they have if one is not familiar with the field being discussed Unfortunately Bryson probably thought that he can easily trespass on this territory since everyone who is able to speak must be a linguist My review may sound harsh but this book definitely does harm than good And people should remember that fun fact books be they about natural sciences or linguistics do not represent knowledge I am sure that people endowed with a deeper understanding of natural science have shaken their head at A Short History Of Nearly Everything as well

  2. says:

    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 200 am 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 collection of swearwords Someone pulled old Bill's leg and did it properly too That casts doubt on all he has written really And nobody says ravintolassa unless they do in fact mean in the restaurant

  3. says:

    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 centuriesSo Bill Bryson cheap euals insta buy for me apparently Too bad even Bill Bryson couldn't make this terribly entertainingI 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 timesOld Bill is in fine form cracking wise and still being informative at every opportunity He didn't get much in the way of interesting material to work with in this caseThe book was not without its moments however I did enjoy the chapter on swearing as well as numerous tidbits or titbits as they were called in a less prudish era that peppered the other chapters Too bad the gems were scarce and some of the reading resembled the back breaking labor involved in miningWhile I found the book informative and mildly amusing at the end of the day it's still a book about the history of words Even one of the funnier travel writers alive can't make chicken salad from chicken feathers in this case 25 out of 5

  4. says:

    I gave this book 4 stars for an enjoyable reading experience But if I'm being honest I'm not entirely sure how accurate it is The idea of this being credible nonfiction came to a bit of screeching halt for me when Bryson described Pennsylvania Dutch as an English dialect He seems to have confused the broken English many older Amish and Mennonite speak expressions like make open the door with the separate language of Pennsylvania Dutch which is a variant of GermanIt was a fun book And as someone who has never been able to spell I finally feel the vindication But I wouldn't stake much on this book's accuracy

  5. says:

    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 infuriatingMy 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 Welsh pronunciations rarely bear much relation to their spellings He then spouts off with a series of jokes that are so ethnocentric and condescending that if you took them at face value you couldn't help but feel sorry for the poor backward speakers of silly old WelshThe problem is he's completely wrong I happened to study the phonology and orthography of Welsh for about a week in that freshman linguistics class I know that makes me a big authority right? but in that week I learned something Bryson apparently never bothered to look up Welsh orthography is remarkably regular about as regular as Spanish It's not at all difficult if you bother to learn the rules which are far simpler than those of English The fact that I learned them in one week and remember them decades later should be some indication of how easy they are The phoneme represented by the double l is called a lateral fricative and yes it's hard to pronounce if you don't speak Welsh but that does not mean it's sometimes pronounced kl and other times thl as Bryson suggests It is always pronounced just like it's spelled But Bryson's Anglo American tin ear failed to pick that up and he took his ignorance and turned it into a cheap joke at another culture's expenseKnowing that he got Welsh so wrong made me doubt all of the rest of the information in the book And that's a real shame because it covers such fascinating topics and it's so very entertainingly written But it's hard to enjoy Bryson's jokes when you have this nagging suspicion that he's bending the truth for the sake of a snappy punchline

  6. says:

    Ever since I learned to read English has been my favourite language I took to it like a duck takes to water at least I guess they take to it willingly and that baby ducks are not paddled until their feathers fly by Mamma Duck to make them This was the cause of the eternal chagrin of my mother who being a staunch nationalist wanted me to prefer Hindi over English She recited to me a famous couplet in Malayalam which saidOther languages are merely nannies;For man the native tongue is the motherI replied that in that case Malayalam is my mother and both Hindi and English are nannies And I just happened to prefer my English nanny over my native one She had no answer to thatWell I am glad I stuck to English over Hindi because this is one crazy nanny totally idiosyncratic and eccentric just like me And to tell you how eccentric who better than Bill Bryson?If you approach this book hoping for a scholarly analysis of the English language you are going to be sorely disappointed For that don't come to old Bill What he does is to throw out titbits or tidbits in the US as they the consider the former spelling risue so Bryson tells me of information some useful some useless some bizarre but all fascinating One thing you can be sure of you won't be disappointedThis book is a linguistic historical and geographical romp through English wherein Bill tackles such varied subjects as1 The origin and spread of English2 The evolution of words3 Pronunciation4 Spelling5 The varieties of English both inside the UK and outside6 Dictionaries and their producers7 Where names come from8 Profanity9 Wordplay and much There is not a single boring sentence You are guaranteed to be snickering throughout

  7. says:

    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 reuired 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 you couldn't imagine downloading a British Doctor Who or an American Stargate Atlantis to your iPod We live in a new world Unfortunately it's also a world where the Harry Potter books are translated for American readers lest we be too confused by the lingo What's this? Harry's eating a biscuit? And wearing a jumper? While battling Fizzolian Snargletoothed Whatsits? This book is impenetrable JK Rowling aside with communication technology becoming smaller cheaper and powerful I think we'll still be able to communicate two hundred years down the line Bryson eventually disagrees with Burchfield for many of the same reasons though he was unable to cite the internet as a factorIn that way this book is showing its age the chapter on online language use is of course conspicuously absent but it's got the history part down Bryson spends most of his time looking at how we got where we are today Where English came from how it got to England where it went from there With its in text references footnotes extensive bibliography and index this book looks almost academic but Bryson an American living in England handles it all with a cheerfully low key sense of humor almost as if Terry Pratchett had turned his eye to grammar and even a refreshingly open approach to the word fuck in the chapter on swearingMy one complaint is that despite being loosely hung on British and American history for the most part the book lacks a greater structure and ends up reading like a series of interesting facts But hell they got my attention and as it happened the attention of everyone around me Hey Did you know the Romans had no word for grey? Since English as this book proves is a big crazy mess I guess Bryson can be excused for not being able to wrangle its history into a pleasing order Lack of structure aside I really enjoyed reading this and will be reading books by Bryson in the future

  8. says:

    1★ DNFI 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—though curiously no word for just plain snow To them there is crunchy snow soft snow fresh snow and old snow but no word that just means snow” There’s a wealth of articles about this half truth I’m being generous Here’s one how many grains of salt would I need to swallow the declaration that immediately followed? An unhealthy amount I’m sure “The Italians as we might expect have over 500 names for different types of macaroni” He goes on to say these include “spaghetti and vermicelli” He obviously means types of pastaThen he got into some languages I have a smattering of myself – French and German—and I began uestioning Some of it just sounded wrong like the uote from an article that says most speakers of other languages aren’t aware there is such a thing as a thesaurusAt this point I decided I’d read some reviews to see if anyone who knows than I do felt the same way Sadly there are a lot You can check the low rating reviews on that actually discuss the many factual errors I stopped reading thinking I might accidentally absorb some of the facts and perpetuate them myselfHow disappointing One star for the writing

  9. says:

    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 and takes us all on a fabulous journey through and overview of the intricacies of human language You will laugh smile and learn a few things while you're at it

  10. says:

    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 prepositionsuffix 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 words with dozens of meanings Except maybe Esperanto? Further there is no preposition in any language that cannot be translated into at least three or four prepositions in English nor are there any English prepositions that don't have numerous translations in the other language That's just how prepositions are They don't translateThe first chapter of this book has so many mistakes that I couldn't finish it Almost every sentence has a mistakeIt is a collage of newspaper clippings If you read the credits at the back you'll see that he only consulted newspapers and magazines and did no real research I can't go through all the mistakes I really don't have the time there are just too many If it continues in this way then this is a work of complete and utter fictionI loved A Short History of Nearly Everything and now I am frightened that if I knew anything whatsoever about Everything I would have found that that book too was filled with amusing but completely made up factoids

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