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Mother Tongue: The Story of the English Language

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Shifting meaning over time— nice, for example, has meant everything from foolish to strange to wanton to lascivious. Only in the mid-18th century did it acquire something akin to its present meaning. He surveys the history of language, the world's language families and where English is situated in the Indo-European stream, and all the other offshoots, some which are no longer living languages. He recounts the triumph of Anglo-Saxon language over Celtic (even though many of England's place names preserve their Celtic roots), the impact of the Norman invasion (of 10,000 words, approximately 3/4ths are still in use including much of the language of nobility (duke, baron prince) and much language of jurisprudence (justice, jury, prison among others). He explores the different ways words are created, sometimes by doing nothing! His discussion of pronunciation and particularly the shifts in vowel sounds was fascinating, For example house was once pronounced hoose. You weren't born in a barn but barn in a born. Deducing the existence of Indo-European is an impressive feat of historical linguistics. The speakers of this language would have only been alive during the Stone Age (around 7000 BC) and there are no traces of Indo-European writing. Nonetheless, scholars have offered convincing hypotheses about these people’s lives, solely based on common words in the descendent languages.

The Mother Tongue - English And How It Got That Way: Bryson

Webster was responsible for the American aluminum in favor of the British aluminium. His choice has the fractional advantage of brevity, but defaults in terms of consistency. Aluminium at least follows the pattern set by other chemical elements— potassium, radium, and the like.” As we’ve seen, English words are derived from many different sources . This helps to explain why English is rich with varied pronunciation and dialects. There are an astonishing variety of dialects within England (let alone Wales, Scotland, and Ireland). The linguist Simeon Potter has observed that there is more difference in speech between two points 100 miles distant from each other in England than there is in the whole of North America. This book contains more than you expect. Bill Bryson covers language itself with a focus on English. The book covers speech from a historical view, a physical view, an environmental view, a utilitarian view, and many other views. If you find the recorded version, you will want to play that version over again as it cruises through many concepts that leave you thinking and speculating how it could have all gone differently. At first glance, it might seem unlikely that the native tongue of a people occupying just one part of an island off the coast of northwestern Europe would become the international language of business and diplomacy. To understand how this came to be, we need to understand the history of English and the processes by which it evolved into the language we speak and write today. What are the origins of English? What are the characteristics of the language that made it easier for people all over the globe to adopt and spread it? What quirks and features of English make it unique? And what is the future of the language? The History of English Roots of English All of this makes me question all the other "facts" I don't know anything about, I simply don't know if I've learned more about them from reading this book.


Nevertheless, the book itself is a bundle of joy of finding invariably humorous take on how word changed - even corrupted - over the course of time. It is amusing to know people made mistakes and those mistakes held on until today. Accident or mishearing— sweetheart was once sweetard, but evolved into its present form through persistent misuse.

Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson, Used - AbeBooks The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson, Used - AbeBooks

For these reasons, English speakers should never be reduced to complacency by the seeming triumph of their language. Things can always change, and the supremacy of English may one day be supplanted by a rival claimant. There’s a wealth of articles about this half-truth (I’m being generous). Here’s one http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca...

PDF Summary Conclusion: The Road Ahead for English

We don't normally say "labor", we call it labour. The sole exception is in the name of the Australian Labor Party, which adopted that spelling in the 19th century.

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