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Publisher's Summary

With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson - the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent - brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience, and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can't) to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industries.
©1990 Bill Bryson (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Barbara on 12-18-15

More satire than history

Once I realized that the book is typical Bryson humor, I settled down to enjoy it. I had expected this to be a cheerful form of the History of the English Language, the sort of book like the Great Courses audiobooks by the Wheaton college professor, or one of the more academic books offered on audible, which are strictly accurate and still interesting. Bryson's book is more fun than accurate. Once I settled down and stopped trying to reconcile the things in this book presented as facts in with information in the more academic books I began to enjoy Bryson's book.

Its good to know this book is for humor, not so much for information.

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23 of 24 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By Lee on 01-19-16

Audio version much better than written version

This was an exceptionally detailed and fascinating history of the English language. Since much of the subject was about pronunciation it was quite helpful to listen to it rather than read it. The narrator did an incredible job pronouncing words that are either foreign or have not been spoken for centuries. He actually sounded like Bryson!

I noted that it was actually written in 1990 and with the development of the internet I wondered if Mr. Byrson would give us an updated version. So much has changed in the past 25 years.

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12 of 13 people found this review helpful

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