The Mother Tongue

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The Mother Tongue
The Mother Tongue.jpg
AuthorBill Bryson
Cover artistTom Curry
LanguageEnglish
GenreLanguage
PublisherWilliam Morrow & Company, Inc.
Publication date
July 1990
Media typePrint
Pages279
ISBN0-380-71543-0
OCLC20934335
420.9
LC ClassPE1072 .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.

This book has also been published in Great Britain by Penguin Books under the title Mother Tongue: The English Language (ISBN 0-14-014305-X).

Bryson has since followed up this work with Made in America.

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