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DanSchwent

Dantastic Book Reviews

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The Mother Tongue

The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way - Bill Bryson

The Mother Tongue is the story of the evolution of the English language, from its humble beginnings as a Germanic tongue to what it has evolved into over the centuries.

So, Bill Bryson + cheap equals insta-buy for me, apparently. Too bad even Bill Bryson couldn't make this terribly entertaining.

I have a long history as "the obscure facts guy" at social gatherings, at least, I did when people still invited me to such things. However, even I had trouble sticking with this one at times.

Old Bill is in fine form, cracking wise and still being informative at every opportunity. He didn't get much in the way of interesting material to work with in this case.

The book was not without its moments, however. I did enjoy the chapter on swearing, as well as numerous tidbits, or titbits, as they were called in a less prudish era, that peppered the other chapters. Too bad the gems were scarce and some of the reading resembled the back-breaking labor involved in mining.

While I found the book informative and mildly amusing, at the end of the day, it's still a book about the history of words. Even one of the funnier travel writers alive can't make chicken salad from chicken feathers in this case. 2.5 out of 5.