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The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way
The Mother Tongue English and How It Got That Way Author:Bill Bryson More than 350 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to. Thus begins New York Times best-selling author, Bill Bryson's, engaging jaunt through the quirks and byways of the world's most important and baffling of languages. No other language has achieved such eminence, overcome such odds, inspired such maje... more »sty of thought, or caused such confusion as English.
Bryson covers the entire history of language, from the first crude murmurings of Neanderthal man thirty thousand years ago to the explosion of English as a global language in this century. We learn why island, freight, and colonel are spelled in such patently un-phonetic ways, and why four has a "u" in it but forty does not. We discover why Noah Webster was a liar and a cheat and on occasion stooped to plagiarism, while the great Samuel Johnson was often wildly careless and inaccurate. (in his dictionary he defined garret as "the topmost room in a house" and attic as "the room above the garret.")
We learn how some of the most cherished "rules" of grammar can be traced to an eighteenth-century English clergyman who had no formal training in grammar, why one of the most prolific contributors to the Oxford English Dictionary couldn't come to the publication party (he was an inmate at a hospital for the criminally insane), and much, much more. This is a book that will, like the English language itself, amuse, delight, and occasionally astonish you.
Bill Bryson is the best-selling author of A Walk in the Woods, I'm a Stranger Here Myself, and A Short History of Nearly Everything. His other books include Bill Bryson's Dictionary ofTroublesome Words, Neither Here nor There: Travels in Europe, Made in America, and Bill Bryson's African Diary. Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Bryson now lives in England and serves as chancellor of the University of Durham.« less