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The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way

Key insights from Bill Bryson's

The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way


Key insights from Bill Bryson's

The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got that Way

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9 minutes

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A peek into the history and eccentricities of the world’s most widely spoken language.

<p>From being the language of barbarians to an obscure peasant’s tongue to the world’s most popular language for business, education, and politics, English has come a long way over the past thousand years. Love it or hate it, you can’t avoid English in today’s hyper-connected, global economy. In “The Mother Tongue,” acclaimed travel writer Bill Bryson surveys the remarkable history and odd quirks of English and explores why it has become so widely spoken despite its many shortcomings.</p><br>

Read this Snapshot if you:

  • Enjoy learning different languages
  • Want to understand why so many people speak English
  • Are interested in the history of human communication
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Introduction

More than 300 million people around the world speak English as their first language, and many others are trying to learn it. As a travel writer, Bill Bryson has encountered many misunderstandings that arise when non-native English speakers try to translate ideas from their native languages into English and find themselves tripped up by its quirks and nuances. For instance, he once came across a warning sign in Tokyo that advised drivers to “tootle the horn” at pedestrians Ý first “melodiously,” and then with “vigor” — if they did not pay attention. While staying in a...

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