Friday, June 27, 2008

Roots of English

video video
My latest bit of summer reading is an book called "The Mother Tongue, English and How It Got That Way." by Bill Bryson. It deals with one of my favourite topics, which is succinctly described by the title. The book paints a vivid portrait of England as a collection of related dialects that gradually coalesced into a common national language. Irregular verbs are transformed into artifacts of the developmental phase of modern English through the explanations in Bryson's book. Plurals such as oxen and geese are actually remnants of dialects that failed to achieve political and linguistic dominance.The influence of French rule and Viking invasions also round out the historical backdrop of English.
This book reminds me of "We Didn't Start the Fire". by Billy Joel. Each time I revisit either the song or Mr. Bryson's book, a new detail jumps out at me and captures my attention. His comparison of the expressive ranges of different languages is particularly interesting as is the information he presents about Celtic tribes who once inhabited areas across Europe.
English has benefited from the varied influences that have shaped it throughout its history. Germanic, Nordic, French and Latin contributions , of both grammar and vocabulary have made it a far more international language than Esperanto and a most expressive one as well.
The linguistic map of Europe has changed considerably since 1990 when the book was first written. It would be interesting to read Mr. Bryson's insights into the changes in European languages, particularly those in the Balkans.
It is interesting to see which books stand the test of time. "The Mother Tongue" has deepened my appreciation of English. I am grateful that it is stocked and displayed at Barnes and Noble. I look forward to reading more on this subject from this author

copyright 2008 by on text only Videos from You Tube.

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The videos at the top of this posting are dance music from Michael Praetorius and a Norwegian group called Folque that sounds a lot like the English group Fairport Convention. They showcase the beauty of both the Norwegian language and music. Sphere: Related Content

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