By John McWhorter
A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, concentrating on our unusual and beautiful grammar Why can we say “I am examining a catalog” rather than “I learn a catalog”? Why will we say “do” in any respect? Is the best way we communicate a mirrored image of our cultural values? Delving into those provocative subject matters and extra, Our tremendous Bastard Language distills 1000s of years of attention-grabbing lore into one energetic heritage. overlaying such turning issues because the little-known Celtic and Welsh impacts on English, the influence of the Viking raids and the Norman Conquest, and the Germanic invasions that begun all of it through the 5th century advert, John McWhorter narrates this colourful evolution with power. Drawing on innovative genetic and linguistic study in addition to a cache of exceptional trivialities concerning the origins of English phrases and syntax styles, Our remarkable Bastard Tongue finally demonstrates the arbitrary, maddening nature of English— and its ironic simplicity because of its function as a streamlined lingua franca through the early formation of england. this can be the e-book that language aficionados world wide were anticipating (and no, it’s no longer a sin to finish a sentence with a preposition).
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Additional resources for Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English
In English, one has come, but in German one is come (just as many will recall from French’s grand old passé composé: je suis venu). Then, German has its business of putting verbs last in subordinate clauses: alone come instead of come alone, better feels instead of feels better. ” Finally, where German has fühlt (“feels”), English has feel-ing. How come German can use just the simple form feels, while we have to mark it with -ing? Every one of these things is an obstacle to the English speaker’s mastery of German.
Suppose you run out of pillows but you still have that nagging urge, and then you see a laundry bag bulging full of clothes. A thought balloon pops up over your head: Maybe I’ll cut the bag open! Well, in German the thought balloon would read: Ich tue vielleicht den Sack aufschneiden. I do maybe the bag cut-open So, German do is an optional trick, used only in the present tense, as one factor in the way you emphasize something. Obviously this is nothing like the way we use do in English, in which to negate a sentence or to make it a question, you have to stick in a do no matter what, and the do has no meaning of its own.
They are describing, but not explaining. The Celtic account, then, is more useful in the sheer scientific sense than the old one. It provides an answer to what specialists have been shrugging their shoulders about for eons: just why the verb-noun (-ing) ejected the participle (-ende) and just why the progressive became the only way to express the present tense. Welsh and Cornish express their progressive with a verb-noun and not with a participle. Welsh and Cornish use their progressive instead of bare verbs in the present tense.
Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue: The Untold Story of English by John McWhorter