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Home » Books » Arts & Photography » Language Arts » Linguistics

Mother Tongue

The Story of the English Language

By Bill Bryson

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Format: Paperback, 269 pages
Published In: United Kingdom, 01 October 2009
'More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to...' Only Bill Bryson could make a book about the English language so entertaining. With his boundless enthusiasm and restless eye for the absurd, this is his astonishing tour of English. From its mongrel origins to its status as the world's most-spoken tongue; its apparent simplicity to its deceptive complexity; its vibrant swearing to its uncertain spelling and pronunciation, Bryson covers all this as well as the many curious eccentricities that make it as maddening to learn as it is flexible to use. Bill Bryson's classic Mother Tongue is a highly readable and hilarious tale of how English came to be the world's language.

About the Author

Bill Bryson is the bestselling author of books such as Notes from a Small Island, which in a national poll was voted the book that best represents Britain, and A Short History of Nearly Everything, which won the Royal Society's Aventis Prize as well as the Descartes Prize. His most recent books are At Home: a Short History of Private Life, and One Summer: America 1927. He lives in Norfolk.


'Not only fascinating but extremely funny' - Angus Deayton 'The sort of linguistics I like, anecdotal, full of revelations, and with not one dull paragraph' - Ruth Rendell, Sunday Times 'A gold mine of language-anecdote, information, curiosity. A suprise on every page... enthralling' Observer 'Delightful, amusing and provoking... A joyful celebration of our wonderful language, which is packed with curiosities and enlightenment on every page' Sunday Express 'A delightful survey - though with its good humour, wealth of anecdote, and boyish enthusiasm, "romp" would be a better word.' - David Crystal

EAN: 9780141040080
ISBN: 0141040084
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Dimensions: 19.3 x 12.7 x 1.78 centimetres (0.13 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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7 review(s)
All Reviews
Anonymous on
A great read! Easy to pick up and read a small section if you don't have the time for a long reading session. There were many "so that's why...." revelations to me while reading this book. Highly recommended.
Belinda Hatz on
Very funny and entertaining book. My literature teaching mother LOVES this author and the way he explains the idiosyncratic English language.
Five stars!
Carol Carr on
An entertaining and fascinating journey exploring the development of the English language. It explains why spelling is infuriatingly perverse and celebrates the strength of English to express every idea. As a bonus, Bill Bryson is very funny, never boring. A must read if you love language.
Marion Miller on
Enjoyed very much.
Peter H Naylor on
Bill Bryson never writes a bad book, and his 'Mother Tongue: The Story Of The English Language' is another good one. Writing about such a prospectively 'dry' subject as the origins of a language could result in a book perfect for overcoming insomnia, but BB has managed to use his familiar sense of humour to keep things interesting and reasonably light while also going into considerable historical detail into why and how we speak English today the way we do. This book is also great value!
anthony fry on
Informative,well written..extremely enjoyable.will make a great addition to anyone's library.
Worth re- reading too!
Hayley Hayes on
It is hard to beat a good Bill Bryson ... and this is definitely a good Bill Bryson! For those of us who love the absurdities of language, the history of words, the development of our current -isms, then this is the book for you. I read it not from cover to cover, but dipped in and out as I had the spare time. It is a simply fascinating read however you get there and is an essential addition to any Bryson collection.

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