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

March 16, 2011
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You might take one look at this book and groan because it’s non-fiction, about English, and written by some old guy. But unlike your previous assumptions about non-fiction books, The Mother Tongue is an extremely fascinating book about the English language, including how it evolved over time and the impact it’s made on the world. Bryson is able to get the reader interested on the very first few pages with anecdotes about using English that are both funny in themselves and in the way he presents them. However, the book goes very in-depth into the history of English, and could get a little bit tedious. You definitely should not plan to finish the entire book in one sitting, but rather in small doses, because reading pages and pages about the Anglo-Saxons will eventually put you to sleep. But still, the information Bryson mixes in with the history is definitely far from boring, including details about rhyming and pronunciation that you’ve probably never considered. Bryson’s story not only forces us to stop and think about the words we say daily, but also opens doors to other languages that some might not have even known existed. Even if language has never interested you before, this book is worth reading.

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