Presenting a tour of English from its mongrel origins to its status as the world's most-spoken tongue; its apparent simplicity to its deceptive complexity; its vibrant swearing to its uncertain spelling and pronunciation, this book covers curious eccentricities that make it as maddening to learn and as flexible to use.
Lynne Murphy, an American linguist living in England, dives into the war of words being waged over the Atlantic. In a laugh-out-loud report, she separates reality from myth in this special relationship and delves into the social and political forces that have seen British and American English part ways. From the origins of 'the bee's knees' to why so many of Hollywood's evil geniuses sound as though they were educated at Oxford, The Prodigal Tongue reveals how our language really works and tells us where it's going.
Would Hiroshima have been bombed if Japanese contained a phrase meaning ''no comment''? Is it alright for missionaries to replace the Bible''s ''white as snow'' with ''white as fungus'' in places where snow never falls? Who, or what, is Kuzma''s mother, and why was Nikita Khrushchev so threateningly obsessed with her (or it)? The course of diplomacy rarely runs smooth; without an invisible army of translators and interpreters, it''s hard to see how it could run at all. But though such go-betweens tend to be overlooked, even despised, the subtlest of them have achieved a remarkable degree of influence. Join veteran translator Anna Aslanyan to explore hidden histories of cunning and ambition, heroism and incompetence. Meet the figures behind the notable events of history, from the Great Game to Brexit, and discover just how far a simple misunderstanding can go.
Features a survey of everything from how sounds become speech to how names work. This work also talks about eyebrow flashes, whistling languages, how parents teach their children to speak, how politeness travels across languages and how the way we talk show not just how old we are but where we're from and even who we want to be.
It's not what you say, it's the way that you say it ... There have long been debates about 'correct' pronunciation in the English language, and Britain's most distinguished linguistic expert, David Crystal, is here to set the record straight. Sounds Appealing tells us exactly why, and how, we pronounce words as we do. Pronunciation is integral to communication, and is tailored to meet the demands of the two main forces behind language: intelligibility and identity. Equipping his readers with knowledge of phonetics, linguistics and physiology - with examples ranging from Eliza Doolittle to Winston Churchill - David Crystal explores the origins of regional accents, how they are influenced by class and education, and how their peculiarities have changed over time.
A guide to word origins offers entries covering the history and sense-development of a major part of the modern English vocabulary.
Why is there an 'h' in ghost? William Caxton, inventor of the printing press and his Flemish employees are to blame: without a dictionary or style guide to hand in fifteenth century Bruges, the typesetters simply spelled it the way it sounded to their foreign cars, and it stuck. This book takes you on a journey through English spelling.
Does language reflect the culture of a society? Is our mother-tongue a lens through which we perceive the world? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? This title states that contrary to the fashionable academic consensus of today, the answer to all these questions is - yes.
How do we really make ourselves understood to other people? This book addresses this question. It shows how, from puns to poetry, news bulletins to the Bible, Asterix to Swedish films, translation is at the heart of everything we do - and makes us who we are.