[Bill Bryson] The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way [zen Book] Ebook

CHARACTERS 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 resilie. 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

FREE READ ↠ STATIONROADSURGERYWIGSTON.CO.UK ó Bill Bryson

The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way

Bryson tells the fascinating often uproarious story of an inadeuate second rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industrie. 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

Bill Bryson ó 1 CHARACTERS

Nce 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. 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


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

  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

  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 a

  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

  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

  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 nationalis

  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 s

  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 thin

  9. says:

    What a hilarious fascinating and educational look at our wacky wonderful and WAY complicated language If Englis

  10. says:

    I teach English as a foreign language but other than that linguistics and language learning is just a hobby havin