This is a book for aspiring linguists. It's interesting to know how the English language got so weird, like why some words change vowels to change tense (sing and sang) and some words just have something added at the end (wait and waited). The author explains the influences of Germanic, Celtic, Welsh, and Latin languages. It was also fascinating to learn that while we feel English makes sense and seems "normal," it's actually quite the oddball compared to other European languages. Other languages have two or three genders: feminine, masculine, and neutral. It's common in other European languages to refer to inanimate objects as either male or female. The author also gives examples of words like "ask", "question", and "interrogate" coming from Proto-Germanic, French, and Latin influences, respectively. Proto-Germanic words are simple, brute. French is polite. Latin is commanding. Hence, why there are so many Latin terms for law and legal contracts. If you don't have a deep fascination for linguistics, it's a little hard getting through the parts that cover the evolution of sounds and words from period to period or how the word "daughter" is similar with examples given in German, Norse, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, and a dozen other languages.
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 would rank this book at the top of the list, considering I couldn't stop listening. I used to hate English because of the way it changed so radically from its earlier form. After listening to why it changed so much I have a new respect of our language.
History of Germanic languages.
Sometimes reading about grammar and linguistics can be boring but listening to it brings out the story so that it is extremely interesting. Grammar is history.
Footsteps of the English Language through 1000 years.
Not only does the Author tell us why English changed but where possibly the Proto-Germanic languages sprung from.
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.
This is one of my favorite audio books.
McWhorter is a fun guy and a terrific lecturer and his reading of his book was completely entertaining.
Um -- a movie about the history of English? I think not.
I'm an English wonk and a writer myself and McWhorter's book on the history and genesis of the language was fascinating and enlightening.
thought this might have some detail on the ordain it evolution of individual words but it us more a case for macro influences. interesting but not gripping. the author did a very good job of reading. I don't think I could have gotten through the written version of this book and I did listen to the whole book.
In short, I struggled to get through this book. The author just keeps repeating himself over and over (e.g. The Celtic influence), seemingly trying to convince the reader through the use of repetition of his theory.
The whole book could be reduced to a third of the length and still make the same points effectively.
Fantastic narration by the author! I loved every minute of it. A lot of thought provoking theories. If you're at all interested in the history of English, this is a must read!
Where I grew up many community's were still somewhat isolated and the English speech GRAMER was different. I learned why. I, at times would say things out of order, strange to those I was speaking to. The heavy German, Norwegian and Scandinavian influence gave me an accent that still surfaces to day after over 60 years. My grandmother, born in the USA grow up on a farm were the old language mixed with English was spoken, was the heaviest influence. Why not my mother? I have no explanation.