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The Mother Tongue (original 1990; edition 1991)
by Bill Bryson
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Wikipedia in English (13)
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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:05 -0400)
Provides a humorous history of the English language covering such topics as spelling, pronunciation, swearing, and wordplay.
(summary from another edition)
Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.
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