The Mother Tongue Audiobook [Free Download by Trial]

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The Mother Tongue by Bill Bryson

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With dazzling wit and astonishing insight, Bill Bryson-the acclaimed author of The Lost Continent-brilliantly explores the remarkable history, eccentricities, resilience and sheer fun of the English language. From the first descent of the larynx into the throat (why you can talk but your dog can't), to the fine lost art of swearing, Bryson tells the fascinating, often uproarious story of an inadequate, second-rate tongue of peasants that developed into one of the world's largest growth industries.



  • I wasn't too thrilled with the excessive spelling of words in some of the chapters of 'The Mother Tongue', making it less enjoyable to listen to. Personally, I'm more inclined towards John McWhorter's books on English. I was really looking forward to some delightful anecdotes about the differences between English and American usage, but unfortunately, there was a lack of such stories and many of the points he discussed were already familiar to me.
  • To start off, I was surprised to learn that the book was originally published in 1990. It's interesting to think about how Dan Quayle's infamous mis-speaking incidents occurred during the presidency of George W. Bush, who had a wealth of linguistic resources at his disposal. Unfortunately, the book does not function effectively because it excessively spells out words, which becomes tiresome. Additionally, there were instances where too many examples were provided for a single phenomenon, causing some discomfort. However, apart from these drawbacks, the book contains valuable and insightful information.
  • The Mother Tongue is truly a captivating exploration of the English language's history, growth, and quirks. However, I must advise those considering this book to opt for the printed version. Why? Well, the narrator frequently resorts to spelling out words, which can be a bit of a challenge. And by challenge, I mean it goes beyond just differentiating between words like "metal" and "mettle." We're talking about Old English, Gaelic, know, the whole nine yards. It can be rather overwhelming, to be honest. Nonetheless, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book. But I strongly believe that potential readers should be forewarned about the inclusion of these extensive spelling episodes.
  • This book takes you on a captivating journey through the fascinating history of the English language and its present state (as of the 1990s). Bryson manages to entertain and educate simultaneously, providing an abundance of interesting facts, overlooked words that deserve wider recognition, pivotal moments in history, and the intriguing ways English words have influenced other languages. All of these elements come together to create an immensely enjoyable reading experience.
  • I love listening to audiobooks while multitasking, and non-fiction is my go-to genre. It's convenient to break up into chunks, allowing me to learn while I work. "The Mother Tongue" caught my interest as it delves into the intricacies of language, with a specific focus on English and its evolution into a global language. It's fascinating to have all these insights in one book. However, there were moments that became a tad bothersome when the book delved into written language, turning the narration into a spelling bee. As a non-native speaker, it became dull and confusing when letters had different pronunciations than in English. I found myself tuning out after the tenth round of spelling. Despite that, it remains an enjoyable book. The narrator's voice is a bit monotonous to my taste, lacking excitement, but it's not a major issue.