Based on the title, I thought this sounded like a linguistic overview of the history of English – for the non-linguist, I hoped. However, it was definitely not that.
Instead, it was really a rather protracted presentation of one side of what is apparently an ongoing argument among linguists, about the grammatical influence of Celtic languages, the Vikings’ influence, etc. As such, much of it was rather repetitive, and frankly, it was mildly interesting at best.
I was sorely tempted to give up at several points, even though it was only five hours and change in length. I did stick with it, only because John McWhorter is an excellent narrator for this long-winded argument.
A school administrator and avid reader and listener of books. At least an hour of every day is spent in the car, and that's where the bulk of my listening is done. I tend to listen to books on "faster" mode so I can get through more books!
Interesting, but not completely engaging or compelling. I listened to the book, and for me I believe that enhanced the experience as I could hear the different pronunciations of words or phrases, rather than trying to guess how something my be pronounced in a foreign language by just looking at it. I learned a little, and it might help me a bit at trivia night. If you happen upon this book and are interested in languages, then spend time with it. If it's left on the airplane, sure, read it. Don't run out and spend your birthday money on it, though.
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."
A great deal as Deal of the Day. Very detailed
Unbelievable linguist .
Do not feel bad now about using a dangling preposition
Yes. this is the best book on the subject of the history of English since "Structural history of the English Language".
This is a book on linguistics.
This is an irrelevant question. This not a fiction book.
Ask questions relevant to the book.
I am an English teacher in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I am an avid reader and love horror, romance, and literary fiction the best.
I am very interested in linguistics but this book did not interest me as much as I had hoped. The book was fairly interesting about how English transformed over the years. But it also felt like the author had problems with other linguistic academics. I appreciate that professors need to put forward new ideas but sometimes this book felt like it diminished other writers.
On the other hand, I am completely in awe of McWhorter’s talent for pronunciation which is a skill that I sorely lack.
Repetitive, interesting, long
The story was interesting as to how English became the language it is today. The story is persuasive for me as a lay person. I really enjoyed the argument against language rules.