Sunday, December 17, 2006

Book: Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson (4/5 Stars)

I love this book. It is about the history and strangeness of English. From English names to English words, statistics of how many people speak English worldwide and so on.

A few things I took away from this book and quote quite often - 1) English is strange 2) adding s isn't the only way to make a word plural (i.e. brethren and children) 3) people never pronounce the "t" in soften, even though people do with often 4) more people are learning English in China than speak English in the United States

And so on and so on. This is a real winner and I highly recommend it. It is quirky and looks at the subject from a sideways position giving many interesting and insightful views. If you've ever been interested in why English is the way it is, and why we say deer and not deers, sheep and not sheeps, spoke not speaked etc.. etc... then look no further.

2 comments:

andychilton said...

Where I used to work, a friend of mine said something strange one day. We asked what it meant and he said it was plural for something - I forget what, but that was even stranger.

Ever since then, when any utterance of non-sensical madness came out, we just dismissed it away as being plural of something else.

It works like a charm when you get your tongue-tied...you say it's plural for something else and instead of focussing on your mistake, it moves it along to funny.

Which apparently is plural for cows and sheep (at the same time).

Determinist said...

I tell you - read that book, it's awesome.

No doubt, when you make one of your statements about plurals, you may even be right!

I like that there are 2 words for cow.. there is cow and beef.. same with sheep and mutton. At one point, the aristocracy in England was French, and they had the terms boeuf and moutton, which got warped into beef and mutton...

Of course, if he'd just made up those facts, I'd be spewing nonsense! I really hope that he checked his facts first. ;-)