About language, a small island and a brief hop to Africa…

Yesterday I posted about my current audiobook read, The Story of Human Language (Audible Audio). The pdf includes Essential Reading at the end of every chapter. And at the end of lecture 3, How Language Changes—Sound Change, to my surprise, a book is listed that I have actually read!

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way
by Bill Bryson

Rating: 3 out of 5.

In this hymn to the mother tongue Bill Bryson examines how a language treated for centuries as the inadequate and second-rate tongue of peasants has now become the undisputed global language.

Written with his usual humour, Bill Bryson tells you everything you ever wanted to know about how the English language came to be what it is today. Funny and informative, but sometimes he gets a bit carried away. 17 pages on spelling is just a bit excessive.

Bryson is another author that I want to revisit.

Another book about the topics of the English language that has been lingering on my TBR pile for quite some time:

The Queen’s English: And How to Use It 
by Bernard C. Lamb

What is good English, and why do we need it? “The Queen’s English” shows how the English language, used properly, has great power to instruct, move and entertain people, but used incorrectly, can lead to a lack of clarity and confusion. This book informs in a light-hearted way, reminding readers how to use the basics of grammar, punctuation and spelling, as well as further teaching them new tips and tricks of style, rhetoric and vocabulary. The book also shows the perils of using language incorrectly, offering extremely (if unintentionally) humorous examples of where bad English can cause one thing to mean something entirely different!

From the book blurb

Maybe I will manage to get to this book in 2021! It‘s been on my shelf for nine years, which is the reason why I added it to my TBR Bingo card!

Talking about Bill Bryson, these are the two books of his that I have read… I could swear there was more, but I am not sure what book it was — maybe In a Sunburned Country?

Notes from a Small Island
by Bill Bryson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

I laughed myself silly when I read this. Which was quite a while ago, in the mid-to-late 1990s, whilst living in London. Reading it on the tube quite often, no less… That‘s pretty much all I remember.

Bill Bryson’s African Diary
by Bill Bryson

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Nice little book, a very brief read. The usual Bill Bryson humour shows through a little, but it’s really only a teensy-weensy bite in between.