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THE MOTHER TONGUE by Bill Bryson
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THE MOTHER TONGUE (original 1990; edition 1990)

by Bill Bryson

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5,689116749 (3.87)187
Member:velocibadgergirl
Title:THE MOTHER TONGUE
Authors:Bill Bryson
Info:William Morrow (1990), Paperback
Collections:Your library
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The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson (1990)

Recently added byGraimprey, SharronA, private library, BarcelonaRed, slrosso, LASiewert, mmoj, Schmerguls, cctesttc1
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Showing 1-5 of 112 (next | show all)
5447. The Mother Tongue & How It Got That Way, by Bill Bryson (read 28 Feb 2017) This is an 1990 book and so is a bit out of date in some respects. But it is full of fascinatingly interesting things about language, and often funny as well. It is the 7th book by Bryson I have read. I am not sure he is really an authority on linguistics but he makes a read stab at showing he has done lots of research. ( )
1 vote Schmerguls | Feb 28, 2017 |
Would it be wrong to proclaim this is a bloody brilliant book, as the Brits might say! This said, I loved everything that Mr. Bryson writes in the book right from the Yugoslav absurdities to the Japanese hotel signages. I guess, language evolves out of love for the spoken thought and second, because we would really exhaust ourselves with playing dumb charades all day long.

This will be my shortest review here because apparently, I am at a loss of words after going through a butchery of the English language in the funniest way ever possible. Time to act all smug knowing we've been marauding languages for a long time in history. ( )
1 vote Sharayu_Gangurde | Jan 19, 2017 |
A wonderful history of English, with all of its eccentricities and word-play. If you like words, then you'll like this book! And if you are a Bill Bryson fan, as I am, you won't be disappointed :) ( )
  TerriS | Dec 23, 2016 |
I'm partial to Bill Bryson's writing to start with - I enjoy his subtle and not-so-subtle snark. As an expat who often gets comments about her accent, word choice, or idiom use and is sometimes forced to defend the same, I've become interested in the English language across different cultures, so I was predisposed to really enjoy Mother Tongue.

And I did. The beginning was less-interesting, although I still learned a lot (as soon as anyone starts talking about invasions, my eyes tend to glaze a bit). There were a few things he didn't get exactly right; times when he used specific examples of dialect or word choices that I knew from personal experience were not as sweeping as he made them sound. For example: I grew up primarily in Florida but spent years in Georgia and travelling to family in South Carolina and never once did I hear the word "Ladybird" used instead of "Ladybug". I didn't hear ladybird used until I moved to Australia.

The last half of the book was easily more interesting as these chapters covered the differences between UK and American English, swearing and word games. Bryson doesn't pull any punches in the section that outlines the word differences between UK and US - many of the words the US is credited for creating are in fact very old UK words that had fallen out of fashion (and memory) in England. The last half flew by and DH got an earful as I read passage after passage out loud.

I'd definitely recommend it for those that want a light overview of the history of the english language. ( )
  murderbydeath | Nov 20, 2016 |
Twenty years from publication, some of it is probably outdated, and Bryson was never a linguist, so it isn't definitive. It's just delightful, which is why I have to read it again every decade or so.

Last reading circa 2005


Personal copy ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 17, 2016 |
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More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to.
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It appears that there is no canonical title, but two distinct titles. If the canoncial title field is left blank, LibraryThing will continue to use the democratic method for populating everyone’s ‘your books’ listing (and maybe elsewhere) with the most commonly used title on LibraryThing. On 20 Jan 2014 Bill Bryson’s home page showed two distinct editions, the UK edition and the US edition, with two distinct titles. It appears that the US edition was published first but not verified.

US edition - The Mother Tongue - English And How It Got That Way – 1 June 1990 (??)

UK edition - Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language – 1 Oct 1990 (??)

A 1991 UK edition was titled Mother Tongue: The English Language
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0380715430, Paperback)

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.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:29 -0400)

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Provides a humorous history of the English language covering such topics as spelling, pronunciation, swearing, and wordplay.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141037466, 0141040084

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