BOOKS: Minding Your Language; the Adventure of English: 500AD -2000AD: The Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg, Hodder and Stoughton, Pounds 20. Reviewed by Jayne Howarth

The Birmingham Post (England), December 13, 2003 | Go to article overview

BOOKS: Minding Your Language; the Adventure of English: 500AD -2000AD: The Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg, Hodder and Stoughton, Pounds 20. Reviewed by Jayne Howarth


Byline: Jayne Howarth

It is a language most of us in this country take for granted, but every so often the weird rules which apply to English make us wonder why such a leap in logic came about.

Why is the plural for sheep sheep? Why is the plural of man men, but pan isn't pen?

Why do we have mice and not meese when more than one goose is referred to as geese? Nevertheless, we chatter and write away without barely a thought. After all, most of us have mastered English at our mother's knee. But how fascinating it is to delve into the evolution of this complex and rich language. Most of us know how the Angles, Saxons and Jutes invaded this small island, but it is how these invaders - and the French hundreds of years later - transformed the primitive Celtic languages which were spoken by the tribes here and transmogrified the disparate dialects into the fairly uniform standard of today.

Incredible as it may seem now, when hundreds of millions of people speak English on a daily basis as a first or secondary language, this global language almost died out.

It was thanks in part to Alfred the Great, who resisted the Danish attack and established Danelaw, who insisted on using English and ordered books to be written in English.

But, of course, this was just a tiny part in the development of the language; there has been a veritable rollercoaster of a ride, with battles, wars, religion and royalty all playing significant roles in its evolution.

If it were a novel, this book would be a swashbuckler, full as it is with adventure and layer upon layer of intrigue and cunning: how the English battled to keep their tongue alive, while absorbing foreign words and adapting them for their own usage; how they fought to have the mother tongue accepted in religion, law and high society.

It was a bloody battle, too, with Tyndale and Wycliffe both losing their lives for daring to translate the Bible, the preserve of the educated and the clergy, into English. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

BOOKS: Minding Your Language; the Adventure of English: 500AD -2000AD: The Biography of a Language by Melvyn Bragg, Hodder and Stoughton, Pounds 20. Reviewed by Jayne Howarth
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.