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.
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.
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.
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.
There were parts that were really interesting, but I struggled to follow throughout. The author also uses a lot of analogies that are difficult to keep up with at times. Worth it overall, but be ready to trail off occasionally of you're not already sharp on linguistic history.
Nothing. It is a dreadful book. The author/narrator is annoying from the start.
No. However, I have had a few bad experiences with academic authors pretending to have expertise completely out of their areas of study. Consequently, they lose credibility.
His tone was so emphatically patronizing. I don't how anyone could stand to be talked to in that condescending manner. I could not. I have a PhD in psycho-linguistics so the content was not unfamiliar. However, the tangents into esoteric details about the insignificant aspects of our language were boring.
This was not a novel.
I really tried to listen all the way through, clinging to the hope that it would get better. It did not. It got worse. Please don't waste the time.
The author begins by revealing a complete lack of knowledge of history when he writes about genocide. I'm amazed no one has confronted him about this. I let that go, hoping the linguistic information would be worth listening further. However, when he claims that the way he uses English is the "correct" way even when that way defies rules of grammar then we realize that he shows a lack of appreciation for well-spoken and written English.
Linguists generally describe the way language is used, but he goes too far. He prescribes how language ought to be used according to his own esoteric rules.