The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English

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Random House Canada, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 262 pages
4 Reviews
The Prodigal Tongue takes a look at the wild, wacky and sometimes baffling road our language–English and others–is taking in its evolution. Where in the world will it end up?!

Mark Abley, author of Spoken Here, has created an entertaining and informative exploration of the way that languages–English, Japanese, French, Arabic and other major tongues–are likely to transform and be transformed by their speakers during the twenty-first century. Grammar and vocabulary are just the beginning; more importantly, this book is about people.

In places like Los Angeles, Tokyo, Singapore and Oxford, Abley encounters hip-hop performers and dictionary makers, bloggers and translators, novelists and therapists. He talks to a married couple who were passionately corresponding online before they met in “meatspace.” And he listens to teenagers, puzzling out the words they coin in chatrooms and virtual worlds. Everywhere he goes, he asks what the future is likely to hold for the ways we communicate.

Abley balances a traditional concern for honesty and accuracy in language with an untraditional delight in newly minted expressions. Lively, evocative, passionate and playful, this is a book for everyone who cherishes the words we use.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - NielsenGW - LibraryThing

If you perk up your ears for a bit, you will notice that English is not the language it once was. Odd terms, new phrases, and foreign invasions are changing English from the inside out. The explosion ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - delphica - LibraryThing

This was decent, a descriptivist overview of realms where English is evolving by the minute, nicely grouped into thematic chapters (Asia, the internet, science fiction). It's REMARKABLE how his ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

Mark Abley is an award-winning poet, journalist and author of Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages, a New York Times Notable Book, a San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the Year, a Globe and Mail Best Book of the Year, and a Discover Magazine Top 20 Science Book of the Year. He writes for the Montreal Gazette and the Times Literary Supplement; speaks English, French and a little Welsh; and lives in Montreal.

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