Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

The Untold History of English

Book - 2008
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Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, author McWhorter distills hundreds of years of lore into one lively history. Covering the little-known Celtic and Welsh influences on English, the impact of the Viking raids and the Norman Conquest, and the Germanic invasions that started it all during the fifth century AD, and drawing on genetic and linguistic research as well as a cache of trivia about the origins of English words and syntax patterns, McWhorter ultimately demonstrates the arbitrary, maddening nature of English--and its ironic simplicity, due to its role as a streamlined lingua franca during the early formation of Britain. This is the book that language aficionados have been waiting for.--From publisher description.
Publisher: New York : Gotham Books, c2008.
ISBN: 9781592403950
Branch Call Number: 420.9 McWhorte
Characteristics: xxiii, 230 p. ;,20 cm.


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Jul 31, 2015

Historical interest in how/why English as we know it today evolved.

Feb 22, 2014

Grammar, not vocabulary, makes the English language intriguing, according to McWhorter ). He tackles the specific challenge of explaining to general readers why English grammar diverged and became simplified compared with its Germanic-language siblings. McWhorter's answer lies with speakers of Welsh and Old Norse (the Vikings). He begins by crediting Welsh for our verb conventions, especially adding the verb do to statements such as, "Do you like cheese?" and "I do not like cheese." McWhorter fingers invading Vikings for shearing off the grammatical markings added to nouns, adjectives, and verbs. Finally, he considers the common features of Germanic and Semitic languages. Throughout, McWhorter contrasts English with other languages and exposes deep controversy among scholars.

-Library Journal


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