Thursday, March 05, 2009

Mother Tongue, by Bill Bryson

I didn’t find this book as engaging as Melvyn Bragg’s history of English The Adventure of English. Perhaps I should correct that. Mother Tongue is not so much a history as a biography of the language. It covers such interesting subjects (if that’s your bag) as pronunciation, spelling, the origin of names etc. etc. As you’d expect, there are lots of interesting facts and bits of trivia along the way. Bryson is a good natured enough guide, but sometimes I find his bonhomie and sense of humour a bit too cute. He’s smart, and has a good reserve of knowledge up his sleeve, but frequently I found myself thinking, so what?

Perhaps I have read too much on this subject (not really, only two or three other books).

Mother Tongue left me feeling a bit dissatisfied. The book has a thin, frivolous feel about it. I think I still prefer the Bragg book.

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