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Made in America by Bill Bryson

Made in America (original 1994; edition 1996)

by Bill Bryson

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3,619402,384 (3.82)61
Bryson de-mythologizes his native land, explaining how a dusty desert hamlet with neither woods nor holly became Hollywood, how the Wild West wasn't won, why Americans say 'lootenant' and 'Toosday', how Americans were eating junk food long before the word itself was cooked up - as well as exposing the true origins of the G-string, the original $64,000 question and Dr. Kellogg of cornflakes fame.… (more)
Title:Made in America
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:Harper Perennial (1996), Paperback
Tags:non-fiction, language

Work details

Made in America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States by Bill Bryson (1994)


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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
A very good book with lots and lots of trivia.....so much, in fact, that there is no point in trying to remember much of it....just enjoy it! I think it becomes patently clear when reading Bryson’s books that he preferred life elsewhere for any number of reasons, many of which see the light of day in this book. Tis a good companion to Mother Tongue which I read 25 or so years ago. There is a bit more historical narrative in the book than is really necessary, unless done for the American culturally deprived (which would include a majority of U.S. citizens). Finished 23.04.2020 in Malta during the plague. ( )
  untraveller | Apr 22, 2020 |
  CapitalCityPCS | Sep 20, 2019 |
You’d think a history of Americanisms would be dry but that’s not the case here. Bryson keeps the tone light and entertaining with loads of anecdotes about the evolution of English in America. It’s the perfect companion to The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English; they even share this striking quote from the 1815 North American Review,

“How tame will his language sound, who would describe Niagara in language fitted for the falls at London bridge, or attempt the majesty of the Mississippi in that which was made for the Thames?”

I was surprised that this didn’t feel very dated even though it was first published in 1994, and I found the last chapter, which included Bryson’s opinions about the bias-free language movement, to be the most thought provoking part of the book. ( )
  wandaly | Mar 11, 2019 |
If the author hadn't been Bill Bryson I may not have picked "Made in America" up. This is one of Bryson's lesser works (although his lesser works are still infinitely preferable to many authors' best works), covering how the English language has been shaped by America, from the Pilgrims to twenty years ago, when "Made in America" was published. ( )
  MiaCulpa | Jan 17, 2019 |
This is or seems to be, a long book - stay with it and read in small bits. And it's not just about linguistics. There's a lot of USA history here. And, it's the real history a la Howard Zinn or James Loewen. This is witty, academic Bryson at his best, not cheap, curmudgeonly traveler Bryson. ( )
  Sandydog1 | Dec 24, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Bryson, Billprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
McCall, BruceIllustratorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Roberts, WilliamNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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In the 1940s, a British traveller to Anholt, a small island fifty miles out in the Kattegat straight between Denmark and Sweden, noticed that the island children sang a piece of doggerel that was clearly nonsense to them.
As Jefferson put it: "The new circumstances under which we are placed, call for new words, new phrases, and for the transfer of old words to new objects".
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