Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: ~ by James McWhorter

I love McWhorter – I’ve read two of his books prior, Words on the Move (review on this site)  and The Story of Human Language quite a long while ago. I love his intelligence, humor and style and they’re all on display in this slim volume (recording?) about how English came into being and a wee bit of what it consists of linguistically, how its transformation involved more than simply words.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold History of English
by John McWhorter
2009 / 256 pages
read by John McWhorter – 5h 22m
rating: 8

Now most of us know English is not “pure” anywhere as the language derived from some Germanic tongues mixed with Saxon and Old Norse speech along with Latin and a bit of French. As time went by these changes went into the writing and Old English, as we know it, was born.

The fun is in the details although I’m no linguist for sure, but McWhorter nicely outlines a few of the early changes. For instance the word “do” and what it actually means. It means nothing in many cases. “Do you like pizza?” “How do you do?”

And there is. a lot more fascinating info here – like about syntax or grammar and how the Celts and Welsh tongues were involved in the development of English. This was no accident folks. And it’s no accident I enjoyed this book. Happy reading.

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2 Responses to Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: ~ by James McWhorter

  1. This looks like an interesting book! I’ll probably like it for the same reasons you do!

    Liked by 1 person

    • All of McWhorter’s books are good but I think I liked “The Story of Human Language” best – it focuses on change in language in general. This one’s good though – where did English, specifically, come from and has it evolved so far?


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