"The story of American English is one of eternal rises and falls in reputation, and Bailey, the author of several books on English, traces our assorted ways of speaking across the country, concentrating on a 50-year period, starting in Chesapeake Bay and ending in Los Angeles." -- The New York Times Book Review
"Places fresh daggers in the heart of the idea that language can somehow be perfected and standardized and celebrates the ability of English to change, adapt, adopt, steal and transform. - Kirkus Reviews
"Fascinating...Grounding this historical journey in specific cities allows Bailey to infuse his narrative of American English with local color." --Ben Zimmer, The Boston Globe
"Bailey's tour of the tongue includes enough colorful language-related anecdotes and enough cultural and historical meat to reward the patient general reader." --Chris Tucker, The Dallas Morning News
is a brilliant kaleidoscopic picture of American English, showing deftly and authoritatively that Americans have always invented and re-invented our language as we please (and in every American place, from sea to shining sea)." --Erin McKean, Founder, Wordnik.com
"Beautifully researched and engagingly written, Speaking American
breaks new ground in showing, city by city, the complex human forces that have given American English its individual character and vitality. It will become required reading for anyone interested in the history of English." --David Crystal, author of The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language
and The Stories of English
is a rich look at the mind-blowingly diverse forces that have twisted and tweaked English on these shores." --Mark Peters, Visual Thesaurus
About the Author
Richard W. Bailey
was the author of Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language, Nineteenth-Century English,
and Rogue Scholar: The Sinister Life and Celebrated Death of Edward H. Rulloff.
Bailey served in the course of his career as the President of the American Dialect Society and of the Dictionary Society of North America, and the associate editor for The Oxford Companion to the English Language. A long-time faculty member at the University of Michigan, he retired as Fred Newton Scott Collegiate Professor of English.