read: 2 January 2005
After finishing this chock-full-of-word-trivia book by Bryson who wrote one of my favorite books of last year In A Sunburned Country I’ve decided that I like Bryson talking about Bryson even more than I like him talking about anything else. So, to say that this book was a disappointment would be wrong, but it wasn’t laugh out loud funny and the things that I found so delightful about Bryson as a writer were less evident in this book. On the other hand, that’s the absolute worst of it, and that’s not too bad.
Word fans will die when they see what Bryson has in store for them. He traces the history of the peculiar language we call English and other people call AMERICAN English from the very beginning settlements on the continent up until the weird PC era of the 90’s. He discusses where a lot of slang comes from, dispells common myths about word origins and has weird factoids you are pretty much guaranteed not to know on every page. I read this book at about the same time greg was reading about the Gettysburg Address in one book and while we watched the PBS documentary about the history of New York City and both segued uncannily into what I was reading. Bryson’s humor, though not as always-apparent as it was in his other book, is still present and keeps some of these chapters from turning into dull recitations of history. I’ve learned more from this book than possibly any other book in the past few months, now if I can only remember all of it...
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