The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way

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HarperCollins, Jun 2, 2015 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 320 pages

“Vastly informative and vastly entertaining…A scholarly and fascinating book.” —Los Angeles Times

With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson 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 talk but your dog can’t), to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world’s largest growth industries.

 

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User Review  - LynnB - LibraryThing

I'm glad I read this book...even though it's dated. I enjoyed the chapter on word play, I learned some new words (which I'll soon forget) and had a few chuckles. However, I wouldn't recommend this ... Read full review

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User Review  - Lukerik - LibraryThing

Crytoscopophilia. The urge to look through people’s windows as you pass. I first read this about twenty years ago and was amazed to find there was a word for people like me. Then I forgot the word and ... Read full review

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Contents

The Worlds Language
11
The Dawn of Language
21
Global Language
35
The First Thousand Years
46
Where Words Come From
67
Pronunciation
84
Varieties of English
99
Spelling
117
Old World New World
161
English as a World Language
179
Names
196
Swearing
214
Wordplay
225
The Future of English
239
Select Bibliocraphy
247
Index
257

Good English and Bad
134
Order out of Chaos
147

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About the author (2015)

Bill Bryson's bestselling books include One Summer, A Short History of Nearly Everything, At Home, A Walk in the Woods, Neither Here nor There, Made in America, and The Mother Tongue. He lives in England with his wife.

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