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This evolutionary history of the English language from author and editor McWhorter (The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language) isn't an easy read, but those fascinated by words and grammar will find it informative, provocative and even invigorating. McWhorter's history takes on some old mysteries and widely-believed theories, mounting a solid argument for the Celtic influence on English language that literary research has for years dismissed; he also patiently explains such drastic changes as the shift from Old English to Middle English (the differences between written and spoken language explain a lot). Those who have learned English as a second language will recognize McWhorter's assertion that "English really is easy(-ish) at first and hard later"; for that, he says, we can "blame... the Danish and Scandinavian" influence. McWhorter further proves his bona fides with deft analogies, like a comparison between the evolution of English and popping a wheelie on a bicycle; he also debunks, handily, the popular notion that "a language's grammar and the way its words pattern reflect aspects of its speakers' culture and the way they think." McWhorter's iconoclastic impulses and refreshing enthusiasm makes this worth a look for anyone with a love for the language.
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John McWhorter is the author of The Power of Babel and numerous other acclaimed books, most recently All About the Beat: Why Hip-Hop Cant Save Black America (Gotham Books, 2008). A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and a contributing editor to The New Republic, he has taught linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley and has been widely profiled in the media.
The author is an extremely interesting writer and obviously a superb linguist. His take on the development of the English language questions intelligently many time-honored but... Read morePublished 16 hours ago by Bob
Excellent short history of how English evolved & developed. I found the story of English's meaningless "do" and progressive -ing for present tense especially interesting. Read morePublished 8 days ago by Charles W Koch
This book is a must read if you are interested in the migration of people from the Mediterranean. No way I could have appreciated it if I didn't get the audio version. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Tomenator
I find this author to be anything but dry. He's interesting, and funny at times, making the subject easy to read. Read morePublished 16 days ago by Donna
I enjoy reading this; well written and succinct and logical. Who knew Welsh had so much affect on English.Published 1 month ago by Michael Burke
I loved this book, and I'm so glad I got it as an audiobook rather than in print, because McWhorter is a wonderful reader. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Sandy
This was fascinating! What a language English is and all that contributed.Published 1 month ago by Geri Hetterick
John McWhorter's fresh and engaging presentation of evolutionary English is informed by the major forces of social and cultural flows through what we now call Europe and the U.K. Read morePublished 3 months ago by d a frey