The history of the English language is always a fun topic for me, and the author provides a new take on it, noting the less-well-known Swedish and the Irish contributions to English. In a lot of ways, it was a fun listen, and the reader was excellent, but it should be understood that the author is promoting his particular theories about English development, and you can't help wondering what the academic critics of the book might have had to say in response. Unless you are very interested in linguistics, you are not likely to try to find out how the academic arguments went after its publication.
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've bought numerous copies of this book in printed to give to friends who I knew shared my interests in history and language. I don't know how many of them loved it as much as I did, but having the opportunity to hear McWhorter himself read the text was too much for me to resist. I had originally found out about this Author through his Great Courses lectures on The Story of Human Language (which I'm delighted to see just became available on Audible) and have sought out more of his work since then. I can't claim to have read it all, but I like his no-nonsense approach to explaining ideas. He cites pop culture references, keeping his discussion casual, but at the same time he doesn't dumb it down in any sense. If you enjoy learning about language, history or just hearing a great story -- whether the ideas he brings together in this book bear scrutiny, is hard to say -- you should definitely give this one a listen.
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.
What a delightful book! Since I finished listening to it, I've found myself thinking a lot about how interesting English actually is from a grammatical perspective and not just a lexical one.
Let me confess that I'm not coming at this as a newbie. I am fluent in French, German and Dutch in addition to English (my mother tongue) and I've studied Spanish and Scottish Gaelic. I even did reasonably well in a Junior Honors History of English class when I studied abroad in Scotland (many years ago.) I've read a lot of the classic materials on the history of English. I've even taught students the official line: the power of English lies in its ability to absorb words so easily.
McWhorter blasts through a lot of those myths with wit and charm. He does a pretty good job of pronouncing things in the European languages I speak. ( I can't speak for Danish, etc. He does hand off to a Mandarin speaker once. Probably a good move.) He has a lot to teach those of us who've been handed a story of English that, well, doesn't quite add up.
It's a short book, so I won't share here any of what I learned. You've got to hear his arguments and his evidence, then judge for yourself. I assure you, this will not be a rehash of things you already know.
"It's been agony, but I couldn't have done it any other way." - Quentin Crisp
I thought this might be fun to listen to since I tend to be interested in this subject matter in a casual way, but I found the author's reading to be sort of annoying. He's one of those narrators who seems to think audiobook listeners are all nine years old.
I also found the tone of the book somewhat off-putting. This book could well have been subtitled "Everyone Who Studies Languages for a Living Is a Dumb-Dumb, and Here Are Endless Straw Man Arguments to Show That I'm Smarterer Than All of Them."
I got this from one of audible's sale days. It's quirky and fun. It's not earth shattering or terribly important, but it is a romp through the history of our English language, and this makes for an enjoyable read.