For linguists, I am sure this is well worth the five hours - for me, it was tough to get through. McWhorter digs deep into a large variety of old European languages and nuances of vocabulary and grammar that go well beyond what I was looking for.
The narration by the author is a huge bonus though because pronunciation of so many very foreign or old words is crucial, I doubt another narrator could have performed this nearly as well. His occasional laughs at his own jokes are unnecessary, but forgivable.
I found this book boring. It just never gave me any points to keep me interested. He discusses in great detail about how grammar is different in English than other languages. That in and of itself would be interesting, but the underlying points of the book (which seemed to be addressing what to me seemed to be "in the weeds" disputes in the field of linguistics) really left me saying "so what?" Maybe I'm being to critical, but I have a rule that I listen to every book I purchase through to the end, and this one was hard to make it through. Maybe someone versed in linguistics would find it interesting, but I would think few lay readers would.
I loved this book! Honestly. It was marvelously entertaining, believe it or not, and had me laughing even when I didn't totally understand all the language nuances. By that I mean, I'm certainly not an English Major by any stretch. What captured my fancy was how McWhorter harkened to the word "do" in our language has having absolutely no genuine meaning whatsoever and thereby calling it "meaningless do." We all use "do" every day. But it has no value. It now haunts me when I use the word!
I'm stumped on this question. I love books and words so anything well written, well narrated qualifies.
Not that I am aware of, narrator wise. He had good presence.
How did we end up like this in speech?
Don't be wary of this book just because of the title. It's a real gem.
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
This is a delightful foray into linguistics that made the subject interesting even for a non-linguist like me. This made me consider things I was completely aware of. Knowing that languages construct sentences differently is not news; but knowing precisely what those difference are is revelatory. McWhorter attempts to trace many of the linguistic discrepancies between languages by examining the clues left behind. These clues are found in several places. Predictably, one source of evidence for tracing language usage is the written word, or as it is called in the field, “scripture.” Another is the spoken languages of various people groups whose word usage and grammatical sentence structure can be contrasted and compared to the record of historical migrations and conquests. Any military conquest in the ancient world apparently left behind not only a a trail of blood but also a trail of linguistic mingling that can be traced.. One unexpected source of information is that linguists try to reconstruct various “proto” languages from circumstantial evidence alone. Many dead languages have no written record, no scripture, but can be reconstructed, partially at least, by examining the cultures they were able to influence. I learned a lot from this book. It is an enjoyable introduction to the history of the English language.
His relaxed understanding of the manner in which grammar morphs over time gives me license to write in a style that seems right to me. Rules are made to be broken.
John McWhorter reads his own book. Surprisingly, he is able add inflection to his voice that makes the text seem to be coming out of his memory rather than from the page. His delivery is very enjoyable and often graduates from the merely precise and understandable to the engaging and even entertaining.
This book is written by a English professor teaching us the origins of the English language and the common misconceptions of fellow scholars in his field. John reads the book passionately and doesn't drone on and on about the subject. It just wasn't as interesting as I had hoped but it wasn't a waste of my time either since I did learn a few things.
I've listened to 1 hour 15 minutes of this audiobook. So far it's entirely about the useless "do" construction that English inherited from Celtic. This would be a interesting 5-minute topic but 75 minutes is too much.
A subject that could be very dry and uninteresting but presented in such an entertaining manner that I enjoyed learning.
Yes if they were interested in language and its origins.
Okay, I get it. English is a complicated language. This was a listen which seemed like a graduate level linguistics text book. Dry, dry, dry.
Probably not unless they are inveterate anglophiles who care about such arcane matters as why English has an unnecessary "do" or why we use the "-ing" to indicate present action. This is NOT a book for the fainthearted who want to hear all sorts of interesting facts about English words. The author has a thesis that he is trying to prove about the origin of those two peculiarities and he presents cogent arguments in support of his position, but it seems inconsequential.
The author's kaleidoscopic knowledge of many languages was interesting. The least interesting was how he kept piling on argument after argument to support his thesis.
He seems to be able to pronounce a wide variety of words in many languages.
Unfortunately no. I was hoping that it would.
This is an extremely well researched study of the origins of modern day English, with a lot of scholarly thought put into the conclusions drawn by the author. I think that McWhorter did an excellent job of narrating as well. His voice is very pleasant to listen to, very conversational, and he uses humor well.
Unfortunately, the subject matter got quite technical and confusing throughout the last third of the book, and I found my mind wandering a lot. I had to keep replaying sections, as I had a hard time focusing on the complexities of the linguistic theory. Listening to the book was like attending a college lecture. McWhorter went deep down into the rabbit hole to trace the origins of modern day language, and did a good job of presenting and proving his theories. It was interesting for the most part. but honestly, if I had been reading this instead of listening, I probably would have just skimmed some of the less interesting chunks of the book. Overall, I am glad I listened to it and feel that I learned a lot. I plan to start his The Great Courses course next (also on Audible), called "Language A to Z."