McWhorter presents a fascinating argument about how English came to its present, rather unique state. His history emphasizes how we got our grammar, and quirks like "the useless 'do'", based on the interaction of German and the indigenous languages (e.g., Celtic). The author reads; I found him very pleasant to listen to. There's some nice humor, too. The only negative is the chapter on the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis. It seems like it's in the wrong book and the polemics seems a bit overwrought, given that it's an old argument about whether language shapes thought to any great extent. Skip that chapter and it'll be a fascinating listen/read.
I like Jack Reacher style characters regardless of setting. Put them in outer space, in modern America, in a military setting, on an alien planet... no worries. Book has non moralistic vigilante-justice? Sign me up! (oh, I read urban fantasy, soft and hard sci-fi, trashy vampire and zombie novels too)
It's pretty much exactly what you'd expect: a bit of a background on why English is the kind of language it is. Not particularly surprising or novel, but it was interesting enough to pass the time. English seems to be different from its "related" languages and the author is quite, err, let's use the word "adamant" (rather than ranting) about the Celtic impact on English. Yes, he does admit that traditional scholars disagree and offers his own "evidence" but it isn't his disagreement with the establishment that got a little annoying but his repetitive "digs" on the subject.
I think it's very suitable for audio because he discusses nuances of language/pronunciation which I don't think would have been as noticeable in writing. He narrates it fairly well, but you can tell it's not his primary job. I think his pronunciation of foreign words was clear enough, and I have no idea if it was correct.
"fabric artist and quilter"
I wasn't expecting this book to be on English grammar, but an up to date version of where words came from. But what the book explained was the impact of the grammar of existing languages (gaelic, cornish, welsh etc) on English. How and why English is different from very similar languages that developed from proto-german in the years BC. It made fascinating listening not least due to the fact that the narrator was the researcher and made it fun and amusing to listen to.
My father was a stickler for correct English both spoken and written. I remember my childhood being spent constantly corrected for incorrectly constructed English. I now appreciate those lessons and take great joy when I see poorly structured or incorrect English spoken or written, particularly if its by someone who should know better. If I had been taught the reason why English is oddly constructed I might have made less mistakes but this book and the research is relatively new
I am sure that my father would have revelled in this book, I know I particularly enjoyed it and anyone with an interest in languages and the development of English would also enjoy this book.
Whorter has some very interesting things to say and since he is something of an "odd man out" from majority thinking, it is natural that much of his points are "push off" points. He makes some of them very well, too, but tends to go too far, becoming guilty of the very same kind of arrogance he accuses others of displaying. The last hour is shockingly preachy and just plain odd.
I found this book to be quite entertaining and informative. This is not the type of book I usually listen to, but the topic intrigued me so I thought I'd give it a try. I'm glad I did. The author/narrator had a well fleshed out theory about the origins of the English language. All of his ideas were quite reasonable and believable. He is also an entertaining narrator. This could have been a dry somewhat boring topic, but his added humor and pleasant voice kept me listening.
Never listened to John McWhorter before, but I would again.
Makes a convincing case for Celtic roots of English in grammar structure. Go Celtic! The history of English is always fascinating. the meaningless
John McWhorter. I always like books read by the author, especially when, as in this case, it is an academic excited about his theme.
Anyone who has listened to Professor McWhorter's Teaching Company lectures knows that he is an excellent communicator who often has something worth communicating. Unfortunately, in this book he presents three or four ideas and spends hour after hour of your life repeating them to you. Apparently, if I was a professional linguist I would be bent over in paroxysms of rage at the heresies the author serves to us in this book. Since I am not, and everything sounds like common sense worked out over and over again, I was left counting the minutes until the end. Not recommended.
I selected this book because the title seemed cool, but the book quickly fell into the weeds for me - far too much grammar detail. I suppose I was looking more for the historical aspect rather than the grammar details. Narrator was enthusiastic; the content was just too dry for me. If you are a linguist, you will probably love this one.
For a book aimed at a general audience, McWhorter belabors, seriously belabors the first point in the book to utter tedium. Besides that, his repeated incredulity at his thesis regarding the Celtic influence on English not being widely accepted by linguists detracts from the material. Yes, I understand they don't agree; you don't have to tell me 20 times. It got to the point I just couldn't listen any further.
yes. The Celtics giving up the "do."
Well done, avoids accepting the mainstream views and is well thought out. Makes one remember that scholars views are not always supported by facts.