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The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World

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  • Posted October 27, 2010

    A mind-expanding, fast, and fun read

    There are annoyingly few books that make you feel smarter and more engaged in the world without punishing you in the process. Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything is one; The English Is Coming is, I am delighted to have discovered, another. A pleasurable jaunt around the world and across time, looking at how English has reached its current configuration and status - and, rivetingly, what we can expect in years to come.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 26, 2010

    Wildfire Spread of English Language Explained in Terms of Etymological Roots

    This lively and informative account of the origins and development of the English language is written so fluently and well that one can read the entire work in a single sitting, which is definitely not what one can say about many works of non-fiction. The field of linguistics has always appeared to be somewhat daunting to the non-academic, but Leslie Dunton-Downer's smooth-flowing and vibrant text conveys profound insights into the etymologies of more than thirty words in such a way that she makes her comprehensive explanation easily accessible to all.

    In place of dry academic pedantries, Dunton-Downer uses amusing anecdotes and imagined scenarios to illustrate the significant points that she makes about the English language. Her example of "anthropomorphized artichokes, some smiling cheerfully, as if eager to be ripped from their native fields, taken in a car to some strange house, steamed in a pot, and devoured" on hand-painted billboards that first helped to prickle her interest in language is an example of such. She also asks several leading questions that should have you thinking far beyond the parameters of The English is Coming! Examples of such questions are: "What is global culture like? What could it become within a generation?"

    The readability of the text was clearly a key factor in the writing of this text. A full-out effort is made to avoid any distractions to the general flow of the text. Full-page figures are used to illustrate key points in the text, relatively minor points are elucidated in footnotes and endnotes, and there is a comprehensive index.

    For anyone who is interested in the field of sociolinguistics, this work is a gem. The way in which Dunton-Downer traces the history of such words and expressions as "credit card", "cookie" and "lol" could serve as useful examples of how undergraduate students can set about their own research in the field. The English is Coming should make ideal reading for all linguistics college courses. The target audience for the book is most definitely the lay person, with all of the facts that the author presents having as a key focus the interest that they are likely to arouse in the average reader. I, personally, was fascinated by the work from start to finish, and am all the prouder now that I am a home speaker of such a rich and varied language, which has countless opportunities for future expansion.

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    Posted March 5, 2011

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    Posted March 13, 2011

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