Thomas's Reviews > Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue by John H. McWhorter
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's review
Sep 15, 12

bookshelves: understanding-things, read_2012, linguistics
Read from September 09 to 15, 2012

Note: I half read, half listened to this book on my second visit. I was quite happy to see that it's included in Amazon's WhisperSync program. That is, if you get both the Kindle and Audible versions of this text, it will automatically synchronize your place between those two formats, allowing you to read when that's convenient, or listen when you can't read (e.g., I love listening to audiobooks while I'm driving).

After this second time through McWhorter's take on the untold story of English, I found myself needing to bump my former four star rating up to five stars. It's not necessarily that I agree with everything he says (I honestly don't have the background or discipline to research the subject that deeply), but his approach and style are thoroughly enjoyable and make it easy to read/listen to. Side note: for what it's worth, the author actually does the reading of the audio book format -- he's got a very engaging reading style and I suspect he was perhaps a great lecturer when he still taught linguistics.

On my first read of this book, I wasn't as familiar with McWhorter and his work. I had listened to his lectures from The Great Courses, , and rediscovered, in a sense, my strong interest in linguistics. But honestly, when I later picked this up after finding it on the new releases shelf at our local library, I didn't immediately make the connection.

I'm not going to delve into the actual specifics of the book, but I will say there's a lot to challenge the textbook story of English's development. One day I hope to spend more time investigating the deeper aspects of this subject -- so far I've only gone so far as reading other laymen-oriented histories of the language. But the area is full of intriguing ideas and McWhorter dives into some of the most interesting ones. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in languages.

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Reading Progress

09/09/2012 "One of my favorite recent reads (where recent is the last few years). I decided it was time to re-read it."

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