Have you ever wondered about what phrases offended Victorian sensibilities? Did you ever want to know the origin of the spelling of colour vs. color? These things and more are addressed in Bill Bryson’s The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way. Bryson takes us through the origins of English words and phrases, not to mention its little quirks and games. There are whole chapters devoted to swearing and wordplay, two of the most important topics. Okay, maybe not, but I got your attention, didn’t I?
I got a kick out of this book. Bryson writes an engaging and amusing style–there were points in the book where I actually laughed out loud. At first, I was worried I was going to freak people out on the subway, but figured that they had heard and seen stranger things. While I found I could not read a lot of the book at once–Bryson is very thorough, which made the chapters fun to read–I was engaged in the content before I got too saturated. Therefore, I’d recommend this book if you’re at all interested in the book. Or think English is a weird language and want to know more about why it’s a weird language.