- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Avery (October 27, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1592404944
- ISBN-13: 978-1592404940
- Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars See all reviews (146 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English
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From Publishers Weekly
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.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
John McWhorter is the author of the bestseller Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America, The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language, and four other books. He is associate professor of linguistics at the University of California at Berkeley, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor to The City Journal and The New Republic. He has been profiled in the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and has appeared on Dateline NBC, Politically Incorrect, and The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
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Top Customer Reviews
The lengthy introduction is to explain why this is such an interesting -- if not entirely convincing -- book. It provides an unusual historical look at English -- not an overview, but a specific consideration of the ways in which English grammar has diverged from that of the other Germanic languages. This, McWhorter proposes, reflects the underlying influence of Celtic. What happened to the Celtic language(es) presumably spoken by most of the inhabitants of Britain at the time of the Anglo-Saxon invasions is a tantalizing question that most histories of the language brush over. McWhorter doesn't; his argument is interesting, but I still wonder if Celtic could have had that much grammatical impact with so little impact on the lexicon. Whether or not McWhorter is right (and is there a "right" answer?} he is certainly worth reading.
4.7/5 If I had to be overly critical and specific.
I have come to trust him after reading his work and watching and listening to him on Blogging Heads, Teaching Company Tapes, and books I've bought on this web site.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just so much fun to read
Had to read every page