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Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English

4 Ratings: 3.3
A book by John McWhorter

This evolutionary history of the English language from author and editor McWhorter (The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language) isn't an easy read, but those fascinated by words and grammar will find it informative, provocative and even invigorating. … see full wiki

Author: John McWhorter
Genre: Reference
Publisher: Gotham
4 reviews about Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold...
review by . February 07, 2011
Middle school English teachers, close your ears:  McWhorter is about to tell us in this small volume why English grammar is messed up and why it isn't such a big deal.  McWhorter, a professional linguist, is not an anything-goes libertine; see, for example, my review of his book Doing our own thing:  The degradation of language and music and why we should, like, care.      So this little book is about how English's distant and murky past has resulted in …
review by . June 08, 2013
   For my next non-fiction project, I'm been rummaging around in  paleolinguistics and paleohistory: I'll tell you just why in a future post.  Suffice to say that my most recent reading has led me back to the delightful Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English by John McWhorter.      His unstated thesis is that English is a Creole language, with nothing pejorative intended in the phrase. What happened to English is that it was …
review by . September 02, 2010
Pros: Brief, presents new ideas in a relaxed but scholarly way      Cons: Can be snide at times      The Bottom Line: This book is excellent for those interested in how languages (English here) work and should spark a greater interest.      For dry and arcane subjects (physics, quantum mechanics, sociology, economics, linguistics in this case) the only way a curious layman would consider reading a book on the subject is if it is engaging, …
review by . April 18, 2009
Creoles: not only in the tropics do they permeate English. Since Celtic times, and perhaps Proto-Germanic via the Phoenicians, our native language's warped like any other. "While the Vikings were mangling English, Welsh and Cornish people were seasoning it." (xxii) An authority on creolization, McWhorter brings to this little study lots of learning. As with "The Power of Babel" (also reviewed by me), he packs an irrepressible irreverence into a scholarly package. His gifts as a former professor …
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