Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Mother Tongue

Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues (Bob Dylan Cover) Lisa Hannigan

I just finished Bill Bryson's The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way

Definitely a worthwhile read if you are interested in linguistics and the English language
Here are a few fun facts I learned:
  • The days of the week are named after Celtic pagan gods, including "Thursday" after Thor (mighty god of thunder).
  • The Japanese have adopted a bunch of Americanisms like rushawa for rush hour.
  • Why did great original American words like teetotaciously, helliferocious, and conbobberation die out?
  • Noah Webster is an American hero! It is thanks to him that we have our more simplified American spellings. For instance, "color" instead of the Bristish colour with the u. But thank goodness that not all of his spellings made the cut, like wimmen instead of "women." That's just weird, Webster. Although iz (is) would have been cool. You had my vote on that one.
  • Shakespeare gave us about 1,685 of our English words, including leapfrog, barefaced, majestic, monumental, obscene, etc.
  • There was also an entire chapter on English swear words, which I thoroughly enjoyed. I now know the origins of about every naughty word in the book. Thank you, Bill Bryson.

1 comment:

Musing Elitist said...

i'm going to order this tonight...sounds fantastic.