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|Library Binding, Nov 2001||
Mass Market Paperback
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Who would have thought that a book about English would be so entertaining? Certainly not this grammar-allergic reviewer, but The Mother Tongue pulls it off admirably. Bill Bryson--a zealot--is the right man for the job. Who else could rhapsodize about "the colorless murmur of the schwa" with a straight face? It is his unflagging enthusiasm, seeping from between every sentence, that carries the book.
Bryson displays an encyclopedic knowledge of his topic, and this inevitably encourages a light tone; the more you know about a subject, the more absurd it becomes. No jokes are necessary, the facts do well enough by themselves, and Bryson supplies tens per page. As well as tossing off gems of fractured English (from a Japanese eraser: "This product will self-destruct in Mother Earth."), Bryson frequently takes time to compare the idiosyncratic tongue with other languages. Not only does this give a laugh (one word: Welsh), and always shed considerable light, it also makes the reader feel fortunate to speak English. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Linguistics as pop science: Mario Pei's works, such as The Story of Language , have shown how this formula can fascinate, and Bryson's ( The Lost Continent ) blend of linguistic anecdote and Anglo-Saxon cultural history likewise keeps us turning pages. Depth of treatment is not, however, to be found here. Bryson, who wants to see comedy in the English language's quest for hegemony in the modern world, strives for entertaining ironies. While his historical review is thorough, replete with enlightening scholarly citations, he mostly reiterates conventional views about English's structural superiority, asserting that the language dominates the globe today by virtue of its lack of inflection and its "democratic" suppleness in accommodating new forms. He retells old tales with fresh verve, and his review of the spelling reform movement has particular merit, but Bryson becomes sloppy when matters of rhetoric and grammar arise, e.g., "He Shakespeare even used adverbs as nouns, as with 'that bastardly rogue,' " and in presenting his opinions (Samuel Johnson's prose is deemed "rambling"). BOMC main selection .
Copyright 1990 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
I will never stop raving about Bill Brysons books... SO good. This is particularly excellent!Published 9 months ago by Madeline
I owned this book for many years before I read another Bryson book... It was a book I loved the first time I read it and every time thereafter. Read morePublished on April 9 2009 by C. J. Thompson
This book is a notch above Bryson's other books. And that is saying A LOT! It is compelling, very witty, and overall memorable. Read morePublished on May 3 2008 by Mark Nenadov
This book contains more than you expect. Bill Bryson covers language its self with a focus on English. Read morePublished on June 25 2007 by bernie
This book is a quick read -- entertaining and light -- but no one should trust the facts that are tossed around in it. Read morePublished on July 7 2004
Before writing about his attempt to hike the 2,100-mile Appalachian Trail in A WALK IN THE WOODS, and then describing his journey through the scientific universe in his more recent... Read morePublished on May 26 2004 by G. Merritt
The Mother Tongue was the first major book on language I ever read. I must say, I found it highly enjoyable and very interesting at the time, and I found it very informative as... Read morePublished on April 4 2004
I enjoyed this myself but I think the readership for this must mainly be people who are already interested in languages. Read morePublished on March 23 2004 by D. P. Birkett
Clearly Bill Bryson knew what he was doing when he wrote this book, The Mother Tongue. He uses his sense of humor and rather witty personality to incorporate in depth looks at how... Read morePublished on March 15 2004 by Laura