The Mother Tongue

The Mother Tongue

English & How It Got That Way

Book - 1990
Average Rating:
7
1
Rate this:
A history of the English language written in a non-technical manner for a general audience. Bryson begins with language's Neanderthal origins and goes on the describe the key people and events that have shaped English into its modern form and character. Annotation(c) 2003 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Publisher: New York : W. Morrow, c1990.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780688078959
0688078958
Characteristics: 270 p. ;,25 cm.

Opinion

From the critics


Community Activity

Comment

Add a Comment

n
Nutty
Jun 21, 2017

I agree with some of the other comments that the book is outdated. At times it was clear the book was written before the ubiquity of the internet. It was still an interesting read. It provided an engaging history of the English language until shortly before the new millennium.

AL_LESLEY Nov 23, 2016

Written in Bryson's voice and filled with quirk and randomness it is as good as any of his books but having probably been written in the late 80s and published in 1990 much is simply outdated. He needs to do a revised addition!

i
IV27HUjg
Jul 08, 2016

Despite the age of this book, I find it still pertinent today. Own it, love it. The audio version doesn't do it justice. I never realized just how difficult learning English can be. Maybe I'll become more forgiving to those who seem to cling to their native language despite living in the US for ever so long & don't seem to make much effort to speak the language of the land.

k
KWALKER101
Mar 14, 2016

Fabulous, fun, and detailed, this is a great look at the origins of our modern English language. It's a book I've read several times over and find a terrific amount of humor in even while being informative. Highly recommended for anyone looking for a nice overview.

r
rb3221
Dec 25, 2015

Did you know? As the title states, Bryson takes the reader on an interesting journey of English and how it got that way. He provides us with a reasonably straight forward good overview of his topic along with a variety of interesting facts for the general reader. Some examples: "Language comes ultimately from spontaneous utterances of alarm, joy, pain, and so on." He states that children "can effortlessly learn two structurally quite different languages simultaneously." And did you know that the fall of Rome helped usher in our own tongue. Fascinating that Shakespeare "coined some 2,000 words and gave us countless phrases such as one fell swoop, in my minds eye, vanish into thin air, cold comfort" and countless others. And very interesting that "just forty-three words account for fully half of all the words in common use and that just nine account for fully one quarter in almost any sample of written English."
In addition, Bryson spends twelve pages explaining where words come from and has a full chapter on swear words. Overall a worthwhile read.

p
phoemouse
Jan 24, 2013

Bryson is shamelessly partial to English. He has produced a book that thrives on that partiality. It is humorous, thick with informative tidbits, and entertaining.

f
fzlu
Nov 24, 2011

Good intro to language history, since he also comments on other languages, in comparison with English. More humourous and colloquial than one would expect / want from a "serious" language book.

Summary

Add a Summary

s
sjerowsky
Jun 10, 2008

Bill Bryson's travel books are always fascinatingly hilarious, horrendous romps. He brings that same humour and attention to the oddest detail to this examination of the english language.

Age Suitability

Add Age Suitability

There are no age suitabilities for this title yet.

Notices

Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Quotes

Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Recommendations

Subject Headings

  Loading...

Find it at OPL

  Loading...
[]
[]
To Top