Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What Say You?

'Made In America: An Informal History of the English Language in the United States'
By Bill Bryson

*This is a mini-review*

Bill Bryson is one of those authors who I'm slowly working my way through his canon of works. For the most part, he's great and his books always make me laugh. At first they were these great travel books and I really related because they were about an American in Europe and I read them as I was travelling through Europe. Then he started writing about being repatriated to the US after living in the UK for 20 some years which also made for humorous reading. Now he's getting a little more scientific and well, that doesn't always make for the most fascinating reading. Luckily he is still pretty humorous so it can work.

'Made in America' takes us basically through the entire history of American English and why we speak the way we do. At times it is a bit, well, tedious. At other times, it was exactly what I was looking for: fascinating and full of factoids. Basically I skipped to the chapters that held subjects that interested me instead of reading every single word. I didn't need to read why the different dialects and accents developed based on who from what countries settled where. I have a degree in history. I knew that much already. What fascinated me more was the social science behind why we speak the way we do. So the chapters on food developments, shopping, manners, advertising, etc. spoke (pun intended) much more to me. Those chapters indeed were worth reading. I found myself wanting to repeat the information I learned in them to others (much I am sure to the boyfriends' chagrin!). It was full of Bryson's usual wit combined with interesting facts for why we speak the way we do compared with other English speaking countries, mainly the UK, so if that sounds like it might float your boat then it'd be worth checking out.

(I got this book from paperbackswap.com)

3 comments:

  1. I love Bryson; my favorite of his was Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid (The audio was read by him and so funny).

    Happy Holidays to you an yours. Thanks for being a loyal blogging buddy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This sounds like an interesting book. In India we are taught British english, I had to learn American accent when I was working in a support center, that really mixed up my pronunciations :)

    I will keep this book in mind.

    ReplyDelete

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