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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating book, which you will treasure!
This book is a history of the English language, with particularly interesting chapters on the beginnings of language, wordplay, pronunciation, swearing, spelling, varieties, and just about everything you would ever want to know about our mother tongue. The only question I still have that Bryson was not able to answer was why was the language of the Angles adopted in...
Published on April 24 2002

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars So many factual errors and urban myths, more harm than good
Bill Bryson's book MOTHER TONGUE has an admirable goal, to present the evolution and current state of the English language in a simple and intriguing fashion. However, it is a book full of factual errors. On nearly every page this is an urban myth, folk etymology, or misunderstanding of linguistics.
Bryson writes charming travelogues - THE LOST CONTINENT is a book...
Published on May 29 2003 by Christopher Culver


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, May 3 2008
By 
Mark Nenadov "arm-chair reader" (Essex, Ontario Canada) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Mother Tongue (Paperback)
This book is a notch above Bryson's other books. And that is saying A LOT! It is compelling, very witty, and overall memorable. It certainly piqued by interested in the English language and linguistics in general. Do yourself a favour, and get this book. You will not be disappointed with this well-researched tome that Bryson produced here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fun listening - you can hear the difference, June 25 2007
By 
bernie "xyzzy" (Arlington, Texas) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Mother Tongue (Audio Cassette)
This book contains more than you expect. Bill Bryson covers language its self with a focus on English. The book covers speech from a historical view, a physical view, an environmental view, a utilitarian view, and many other views. You will want to play the tape over again as it cruses through many concepts that leave you thinking and speculating how it could have all gone differently.
A highlight for me (aside from his dirty word list) was the recognition that we try to impose Old Latin syntaxes on Modern English and it can get reticules.
My only disappointment comes when he mentions things I have already read and gets it wrong or off the mark.
The advantage of the tape is that you actually hear the pronunciations. When it is a matter of spelling the reader will spell it out for you. Also the reader has the ability to change accents to fit the dialect samples.
The disadvantage is when you want to turn back to a particular page for cross-reference; there is no page to turn. So I would be smart to won both versions.
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Bryson, you're an ass., Sept. 29 2003
By 
Michael Sutcliffe (Morristown, New Jersey United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Mother Tongue (Paperback)
I am an undergraduate student in linguistics, and as a gramarian, as well as someone who has a genuine interest in languages, of any sort, I must say that this book represents the lowest and least informed type of linguistic literature to date. Bryson has no concept of science, meticulous research, or humility. Besides his overly glaring inaccuracies about the languages of some Alaskan peoples (they aren't called Eskimos anymore, Bill), there are numerous other, smaller slipups which harm the book's credibility as a well-researched treatice greatly. Most notable among them, for me, was when Bryson glibly stated that the language, Irish Gaelic, has no words for "yes" or "no", so its speakers must resort to expressions such as "I think not". On the contrary, the words, "ta/" and "ni/l" are as often used as not for these expressions. And was I the only one who noticed that in deliniating the list of words Shakespeare gave us, Bryson used obseen twice? Also, much of this information is not only inaccurate, but hopelessly dated (Australians hardly use expressions such as "cobber" anymore). In short, I was so disgusted with the book that I only read about half of it before becoming thoroughly unable to continue. This is rubbish; read something by Stephen Pinker if you want something not only based in scientifically proven fact, but presented by a professor with degrees in the subject.
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Mother Tongue
Mother Tongue by B Bryson (Paperback - Sept. 1 1991)
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