Read The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson for free with a 30 day free trial. Read unlimited* books and audiobooks on the web, iPad, iPhone and. PDF | The author of the paper studies issues on personal names discussed in the work of Bill Bryson "Mother Tongue" in order to approve or. Bryson B. The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way. Файл формата pdf; размером 1,62 МБ With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson— the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent—brilliantly explores the remarkable.
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Bill Bryson - The Mother Tongue –. English & How It Got That Way. Excerpts from Chapter 5: Where Words Come From. IF YOU HAVE A MORBID FEAR OF. Title: [DOWNLOAD -PDF-] The Mother Tongue English and How It Got Book Details Author: Bill Bryson Pages: Binding: Paperback. Who would have thought that a book about English would be so entertaining? Certainly not this grammar-allergic reviewer, but The Mother Tongue pulls it off.
Technical and scientific terms would add millions more. Altogether, about , English words are in common use, more than in German , and far more than in French a mere , The richness of the English vocabulary, and the wealth of available synonyms, means that English speakers can often draw shades of distinction unavailable to non-English speakers. In Russia there are no native words for efficiency, challenge, engagement ring, have fun, or take care [all cited in The New York Times, June 18, ]. On the other hand, other languages have facilities we lack. Portuguese has words that differentiate between an interior angle and an exterior one.
There was a ruling class, which spoke French, and a working class, which spoke English. However, it has since taken on a new meaning and now refers to machine-made products.
Of all the words in the English language that come from Latin, over half of them have changed with time. Then there is the introduction of new words, often by creative individuals.
One of the most plentiful periods spanned the years between and , when more than ten thousand new words were brought into the English lexicon. New words are also created by simplifying and shortening longer words.
When settlers arrived in the Americas, they encountered a whole world of strange new plants and animals, each of which required immediate naming. Of course, these animals and plants already had names — Native American names — and the settlers were quick to introduce them to the English language.
Then there are compound words — single words that were once two separate words. Nicknames are also extremely evocative, though they vary from country to country. But, actually, at least one extremely common word resulted from a major misunderstanding. But by the time the error was discovered, it was too late. But this is just one way in which our last names can provide insight into our ancestry. Another detail a last name can reveal is where our ancestors lived.
Long ago, Englanders would go by names like James of Preston, but these were eventually simplified to skip the preposition, leaving just James Preston. But if a Londoner did leave for the country, he might then take a name like John of London. Finally, there are the trade names like Smith and Baker. Many of these are still obvious, though other professions have since died out.
This changed in , however, with the introduction of medieval bureaucracy in England. In India, there are more than 3, newspapers in English. The six member nations of the European Free Trade Association conduct all their business in English, even though not one of them is an English-speaking country. When companies from four European countries—France, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland—formed a joint truck-making venture called Iveco in , they chose English as their working language because, as one of the founders wryly observed, It puts us all at an equal disadvantage.
They were all in English. For non-English speakers everywhere, English has become the common tongue. Even in France, the most determinedly non-English-speaking nation in the world, the war against English encroachment has largely been lost. In early , the Pasteur Institute announced that henceforth it would publish its famed international medical review only in English because too few people were reading it in French.
English is just as much big business as the export of manufactured goods, Professor Randolph Quirk of Oxford University has written. Indeed, such is the demand to learn the language that there are now more students of English in China than there are people in the United States. It is often said that what most immediately sets English apart from other languages is the richness of its vocabulary.
Technical and scientific terms would add millions more.
Altogether, about , English words are in common use, more than in German , and far more than in French a mere , The richness of the English vocabulary, and the wealth of available synonyms, means that English speakers can often draw shades of distinction unavailable to non-English speakers. The French, for instance, cannot distinguish between house and home, between mind and brain, between man and gentleman, between I wrote and I have written.
The Spanish cannot differentiate a chairman from a president, and the Italians have no equivalent of wishful thinking.
In Russia there are no native words for efficiency, challenge, engagement ring, have fun, or take care [all cited in The New York Times, June 18, ]. Most speakers of other languages are not aware that such books exist [ The Miracle of Language, page 54].
On the other hand, other languages have facilities we lack. Portuguese has words that differentiate between an interior angle and an exterior one. All the Romance languages can distinguish between something that leaks into and something that leaks out of.
The Italians even have a word for the mark left on a table by a moist glass culacino while the Gaelic speakers of Scotland, not to be outdone, have a word for the itchiness that overcomes the upper lip just before taking a sip of whiskey.
And we have nothing in English to match the Danish hygge meaning instantly satisfying and cozy , the French sang-froid, the Russian glasnost, or the Spanish macho, so we must borrow the term from them or do without the sentiment. At the same time, some languages have words that we may be pleased to do without. The existence in German of a word like schadenfreude taking delight in the misfortune of others perhaps tells us as much about Teutonic sensitivity as it does about their neologistic versatility.
Much the same could be said about the curious and monumentally unpronounceable Highland Scottish word sgiomlaireachd, which means the habit of dropping in at mealtimes. That surely conveys a world of information about the hazards of Highland life—not to mention the hazards of Highland orthography. Of course, every language has areas in which it needs, for practical purposes, to be more expressive than others. The Eskimos, as is well known, have fifty words for types of snow—though curiously no word for just plain snow.
To them there is crunchy snow, soft snow, fresh snow, and old snow, but no word that just means snow. The Italians, as we might expect, have over names for different types of macaroni. Some of these, when translated, begin to sound distinctly unappetizing, like strozzapreti, which means strangled priests.
Vermicelli means little worms and even spaghetti means little strings.
When you learn that muscatel in Italian means wine with flies in it, you may conclude that the Italians are gastronomically out to lunch, so to speak, but really their names for foodstuffs are no more disgusting than our hot dogs or those old English favorites, toad-in-the-hole, spotted dick, and faggots in gravy. Meanwhile, the Arabs are said a little unbelievably, perhaps to have 6, words for camels and camel equipment.
The aborigines of Tasmania have a word for every type of tree, but no word that just means tree, while the Araucanian Indians of Chile rather more poignantly have a variety of words to distinguish between different degrees of hunger. Even among speakers of the same language, regional and national differences abound.
A Londoner has a less comprehensive view of extremes of weather than someone from the Middle West of America. What a Briton calls a blizzard would, in Illinois or Nebraska, be a flurry, and a British heat wave is often a thing of merriment to much of the rest of the world.
I still treasure a London newspaper with the banner headline: A second commonly cited factor in setting English apart from other languages is its flexibility. This is particularly true of word ordering, where English speakers can roam with considerable freedom between passive and active senses. Not only can we say I kicked the dog, but also The dog was kicked by me —a construction that would be impossible in many other languages. Similarly, where the Germans can say just ich singe and the French must manage with je chante, we can say I sing, I do sing, or I am singing.
English also has a distinctive capacity to extract maximum work from a word by making it do double duty as both noun and verb. The list of such versatile words is practically endless: Other languages sometimes show inspired flashes of versatility, as with the German auf, which can mean on, in, upon, at, toward, for, to, and upward, but these are relative rarities.
At the same time, the endless versatility of English is what makes our rules of grammar so perplexing. Few English-speaking natives, however well educated, can confidently elucidate the difference between, say, a complement and a predicate or distinguish a full infinitive from a bare one.
The reason for this is that the rules of English grammar were originally modeled on those of Latin, which in the seventeenth century was considered the purest and most admirable of tongues. That it may be. But it is also quite clearly another language altogether. Imposing Latin rules on English structure is a little like trying to play baseball in ice skates. In the sentence I am swimming, swimming is a present participle. But in the sentence Swimming is good for you, it is a gerund—even though it means exactly the same thing.
A third—and more contentious—supposed advantage of English is the relative simplicity of its spelling and pronunciation. For all its idiosyncrasies, English is said to have fewer of the awkward consonant clusters and singsong tonal variations that make other languages so difficult to master.
In Cantonese, hae means yes. But, with a fractional change of pitch, it also describes the female pudenda.
The resulting scope for confusion can be safely left to the imagination. In other languages it is the orthography, or spelling, that leads to bewilderment. In Welsh, the word for beer is cwrw —an impossible combination of letters for any English speaker. But Welsh spellings are as nothing compared with Irish Gaelic, a language in which spelling and pronunciation give the impression of having been devised by separate committees, meeting in separate rooms, while implacably divided over some deep semantic issue.
Try pronouncing geimhreadh, Gaelic for winter, and you will probably come up with something like gem-reed-uh. It is in fact gyeeryee. Against this, the Welsh pronunciation of cwrw — koo-roo —begins to look positively self-evident.
In all languages pronunciation is of course largely a matter of familiarity mingled with prejudice. The average English speaker confronted with agglomerations of letters like tchst, sthm, and tchph would naturally conclude that they were pretty well unpronounceable. Yet we use them every day in the words matchstick, asthma, and catchphrase. Here, as in almost every other area of language, natural bias plays an inescapable part in any attempt at evaluation.
No one has ever said, Yes, my language is backward and unexpressive, and could really do with some sharpening up. In Japanese, the word for foreigner means stinking of foreign hair. To the Czechs a Hungarian is a pimple.
Fifth Edition. Routledge, A History of the English Language is a comprehensive exploration of the linguistic and cultural development of English, from the Middle Ages to the present day. The book provides students Grammar Vocabulary