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Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language

R285.00

Availability: 1 in stock (can be backordered)

 

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.

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