The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way by Bill BrysonThe Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way by Bill Bryson

The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way

byBill Bryson

Paperback | October 23, 2001

Pricing and Purchase Info

$19.26 online 
$19.99 list price
Earn 96 plum® points
Quantity:

In stock online

Ships free on orders over $25

Available in stores

about

With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson—the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent—brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can't), to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industries.

“Complex and maddeningly illogical though it is, English is spoken by more than 300 million people around the world…Its story has been told before, but seldom as deftly or as memorably…An enthralling excursion…A motherlode of delectable trivia.” (Burt Hochburg, The New York Times Book Review)
Loading
Title:The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that WayFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8 × 5.31 × 0.72 inPublished:October 23, 2001Publisher:HarperCollins

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0380715430

ISBN - 13:9780380715435

Look for similar items by category:

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Mother Tongue Fantastic .No surprise that Bryson exhibits his accustomed expertise in language and exhaustive research accompanied by a very deep sensitivity when comparing American English and British English. Whatever topic he chooses to write about he treats with the utmost sympathy and respect and an indefatigable amount of research.
Date published: 2015-10-08
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not quite as factual as I'd hoped As a linguistics major, I'm finding a lot of the things Bill is telling me have been disproved or are simply just his opinions made into "fact". Though he's an excellent writer and very well known and celebrated, this book is definitely not one that I would cite in an essay. While I enjoyed the book, I found myself shaking my head at a few suggestions (alright, many suggestions) Bryson has made. One of my favourites would have to be that the International Phonetic Association hasn't got quite enough symbols to fully identify all sounds produced in the English language. He then goes to describe segments that the IPA (allegedly) lacks, though these segments clearly do exist to anybody who has even partially studied the International Phonetic Alphabet. However, Bryson has covered all possible topics of the origin and transition of a language, and its varieties, without losing my attention. Though he isn't a noted linguist, he is definitely a writer. I plan on reading his other works just for the enjoyment. Though I sometimes found parts of the book questionable, Bryson is a gifted story teller. I'm a little disappointed that the very well known Bill Bryson has proved to leave me wondering if he checked his facts, but if I were studying any other subject (besides English) I'm sure I would have no complaints!
Date published: 2009-08-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson This is in many ways quite a technical book with a lot of detail in it, but I found it absolutely fascinating. It changed my attitude towards English, when I realized what a fluid and complex language it is. Who cares if there's no such word as 'mispoke' and that medal now seems to be a verb as well as a noun - its all good! Apparently gloomy and brisky were invented at the same time, but brisky just didn't make it for some reason. And why can something be inert but not ert? Of course Bill Bryson could make the phone book interesting, and in this case he's really got something to work with.
Date published: 2005-10-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The Mother Tongue The Mother Tongue never leaves me. i remember reading it two years ago, and I've been reading it ever since. I truly believe that is the wittiest, most readable book on the English language ever written, and the best thing is that it educates while being really, really funny. I loved the book so much I can virtually recite passages of the book. I have read all his other books, and reccommend them heartily to anyone with a sense of humor. And without.
Date published: 1999-11-29

From Our Editors

The author of the acclaimed The Lost Continent now steers us through the quirks and byways of the English language. We learn why island, freight, and colonel are spelled in such unphonetic ways, why four has a u in it but forty doesn't, plus bizarre and enlightening facts about some of the patriarchs of this peculiar language.

Editorial Reviews

“Complex and maddeningly illogical though it is, English is spoken by more than 300 million people around the world…Its story has been told before, but seldom as deftly or as memorably…An enthralling excursion…A motherlode of delectable trivia.” (Burt Hochburg, The New York Times Book Review)