The Mother Tongue
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|Cover artist||Tom Curry|
|Publisher||William Morrow & Company, Inc.|
|LC Class||PE1072 .B76 1990|
The Mother Tongue (ISBN 0-380-71543-0) is a book by Bill Bryson which compiles the history and origins of the English and the language's various quirks. It is subtitled English And How It Got That Way. The book discusses the Indo-European origins of English, the growing status of English as a global language, the complex etymology of English words, the dialects of English, spelling reform, prescriptive grammar, and more minor topics including swearing. This account popularises the subject and makes it accessible to the lay reader; but Bryson's book has been criticised for some inaccuracies, such as the perpetuation of several urban myths, including an uncritical account of the number of words Eskimos have for snow. He also inaccurately describes some other languages and their writing systems, such as Chinese and Japanese, just to give an example.
Bryson has since followed up this work with Made in America.
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