Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Book 25 of 2013: Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

I've mentioned my love for language in the past and Bill Bryson's Mother Tongue was mentioned on the OU forums for one of my previous linguistics courses. I forget exactly when it was that I got it, somewhere in a charity shop. At the time I got it, someone told me that they weren't a fan of Bill Bryson's writing and that it probably wouldn't appeal to me. In the end it was stuck in a box and only made it onto the bookcase quite recently.


It's a shame I waited so long to read it because it was really fascinating. Basically Bill Bryson looks at factors which have influenced the English language, how it has changed through time and why it continues to change today. This sort of thing is right up my street.

I found it really interesting. Lots of it was like a potted (and humorous) version of my first OU linguistics course (U211). I wish I'd had it to make reference to during my essays and exam! In a way it kind of reminded me of the Horrible Histories or The Knowledge books that I used to love when I was younger. It didn't have illustrations, but it did have lots of quirky facts and was often written in a tongue-in-cheek style.

As I often find with funny books that I enjoy, I couldn't help but keep on reading bits out to Mr Click (and I made loads and loads of notes of favourite quotes in my book journal as well). I have to admit that I preferred the bits about UK English to the bits about US English, that's probably because I know more about UK English as that's what I've been studying. Hopefully as I expand my collection of linguistics-themed books I'll learn more about other varieties of English and I'll find the US sections more interesting.

It's definitely going to be a book I'll revisit in the future and now that I know that I like Bill Bryson's style of writing. I think he's done some similar books which I think I'm going to definitely keep an eye out for in the future.

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Let me know what you think. :-)