This book is a volley in an academic argument to which most of us listeners are not a party. However it's no less interesting for that. the author convincingly describes a number of common misconceptions about the English language and gives the antidote. It's a fascinating journey through the mechanic that is the grammar of our language. And it's an excellent counterexample to all those audiobooks where the listener cringes to hear a book read by the author. Indeed it's hard to imagine who else could have possibly read this book . And in addition to getting the myriad foreign pronunciations correct the author allows himself the freedom to chuckle and add in a few quips throughout the book In a way which I found charming.
I don't want to read the bestsellers. I want to read the best written.
With little in my background for formal study in linguistics, this book was an enjoyable challenge for me. There were times when I thought I would have understood the discussion better if I had the text in hand but the author brought a lot of humor and animation to the subject.
While a bit Academica times and soamewhat hard to follow from time to time as an audiobook this was a very interesting and compelling set of theories and evidence for the evolution of the English language. I highly recommend it if you have any interest of what English really came Fromm
Engaging. Historical. Satisfying.
I bought this book for my Mother (a retired english teacher) because I thought she might enjoy it. I didn't intend to read it, but turned it on at the start of a long road trip and found myself thoroughly captivated. I'm not a linguist, but I do like history and explanations of how things evolve. Mr. McWhorter does a great job of explaining the evolution of grammar in a way that is both interesting and satisfying. I wish that I had read this book before trying to learn a second language. I'm going to try another of his books now.
The book describes the "untold" side of the evolution of English, which fascinates me as someone who grew up in the Caribbean (surrounded by a mix of Caribbean Standard English, dialect, American English and British English) and has lived on the West Coast of the USA and in Europe.
It focuses on grammar, and makes some provocative links and conclusions. The author is also the reader, which allows him to show his enthusiasm and passion for the material and convey his meaning in a way that I think would have been hard even anyone else to deliver. Listening to the pronunciation of the many foreign words and phrases provided a much more authentic experience than I would have had if I had opted for the print edition.
At times I found he was a bit repetitive in his presentation of the arguments against some more-accepted or conventional theories. I had already bought into his hypothesis, and didn't need more convincing, but in a couple cases, the discussion continued well after I was "sold".
Putting that aside, I enjoyed the book a great deal and learned a lot from it. I would recommend it for anyone interested in knowing more about where some of the unique features of English come from. (Hey, isn't that a preposition at the end of that sentence?) It also makes me question what the future might bring, with so many people learning English as a second language: does this have greater similarity to the Celts learning English and "stewing" elements into it, or to the Vikings agressive simplification of it? Or will it give rise to a different effect altogether?
New, Different approach
The English language
This book had to be read by the author. An excellent job.
If I had the time
I read along with the Kindle book which helped on many of the foreign words.
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.