Aya's Reviews > The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson
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's review
Jul 25, 2012

it was ok
bookshelves: kindle
Read from July 25 to September 08, 2012

Bryson is popular and humorous. I suppose these are both good things.
The danger with dealing in psuedo-pop-historical argumentation and language is that we live in an era where we (as English speakers) are completely unaware of the political power of language except an under-rated appreciation for being understood almost anywhere because of capitalism and colonialism. This is the kind of issue that a book like The Mouth Tounge needs to be written not *about* but with reference to and I found far too much in Bryson's book dealing with how humorous vowels are and not enough with their opulent wealth of transformation and agency.

Vowels and compound words might be funny but so are knee caps if you look at them in the right moment.

The practice of taking English and finding it irregular and alien is a very long-standing one, a kind of humorous joke, is something I used to enjoy but now I just find it othering. Taking a dictionary and laughing and pointing isn't really that useful.

Useful, informative books about language? The Professor and the Madman & Alphabet.

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Reading Progress

07/26/2012 page 7

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Rayna (new) - added it

Rayna  (Poindextrix) I've been meaning to read that. It's mildly disappointing that Bryson doesn't treat the subject with a bit more...gravity?
Also, best quote ever: "Vowels and compound words might be funny but so are knee caps if you look at them in the right moment."

message 2: by Aya (new) - rated it 2 stars

Aya Everyone else really liked this book and though I was a bit snotty I suspect but l stand by my judgement ;)

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