27 January 2010


'Mother Tongue' by Bill Bryson
January 11 - 16, 244 pages

I like words. I also quite enjoy Bill Bryson. So I was pretty sure I would enjoy this book about the English language. I did. It was fun.

I found it very interesting. I like the way that English has borrowed from other languages throughout history and the different ways in which words have been absorbed. For example, 'chef' was borrowed from French and anglicised into 'chief' but was later borrowed again, the pronunciation preserved and the meaning altered. It's such a rich language.

The book also has lots of Shakespeare, which always scores points with me.

And you know what's a useful word?
Velleity, the mild desire, a wish or urge too slight to lead to action.
Good one Bryson.

Thinking about it later, I didn't actually enjoy this book that much. I mean it was fun at times and there was some interesting stuff, but sometimes it seemed to jump around and contradict itself. Also, I have a feeling some of the facts were maybe not so reliable, although I understand that it is very hard to know what is true when it comes to the forming of a language. Still worth a read, though.

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