McWhorter presents a fascinating argument about how English came to its present, rather unique state. His history emphasizes how we got our grammar, and quirks like "the useless 'do'", based on the interaction of German and the indigenous languages (e.g., Celtic). The author reads; I found him very pleasant to listen to. There's some nice humor, too. The only negative is the chapter on the Whorf-Sapir hypothesis. It seems like it's in the wrong book and the polemics seems a bit overwrought, given that it's an old argument about whether language shapes thought to any great extent. Skip that chapter and it'll be a fascinating listen/read.
Disclaimer: I am a psychological scientist, so your enjoyment mileage may differ, but I found 101 Theory Drive a truly fascinating tale. McDermott's detailed account of the scientific (and personal) life of Gary Lynch--who first correctly worked out the neurological bases of memory formation in the brain--is full of interesting details about the life and work of a brilliant thinker and scientific investigator...warts, setbacks and all. It's got a lot of physiological detail, which may bore/confuse some readers, but it does not require a lot of knowledge to follow, and it is truly fascinating if you are at all interested in how the brain becomes "mind". I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in the way science REALLY works and in how creative thinkers often work.
Report Inappropriate Content