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The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English

The Prodigal Tongue: The Love-Hate Relationship Between American and British English

by Lynne Murphy


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An American linguist teaching in England explores the sibling rivalry between British and American English

“English accents are the sexiest.”
“Americans have ruined the English language.”
Such claims about the English language are often repeated but rarely examined. Professor Lynne Murphy is on the linguistic front line. In The Prodigal Tongue she explores the fiction and reality of the special relationship between British and American English. By examining the causes and symptoms of American Verbal Inferiority Complex and its flipside, British Verbal Superiority Complex, Murphy unravels the prejudices, stereotypes and insecurities that shape our attitudes to our own language.
With great humo(u)r and new insights, Lynne Murphy looks at the social, political and linguistic forces that have driven American and British English in different directions: how Americans got from centre to center, why British accents are growing away from American ones, and what different things we mean when we say estate, frown, or middle class. Is anyone winning this war of the words? Will Yanks and Brits ever really understand each other?

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143131106
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 682,674
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Lynne Murphy is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex. Born and raised in New York State, she studied Linguistics at the Universities of Massachusetts and Illinois, before starting her academic career in South Africa and Texas. Since 2000, she has lived in Brighton, England, where she has acquired an English husband, an English daughter, and an alter ego: Lynneguist, author of the award-winning blog Separated by a Common Language.

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Copyright © 2018 Lynne Murphy.
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Table of Contents

1 The Queen's English, Corrupted 1

2 The Wrong End of the Bumbershoot: Stereotypes and Getting Things Wrong 28

3 Separated by a Common Language? 63

4 America: Saving the English Language Since 1607 96

5 More American, More Ænglisc? 127

6 Logical Nonsense 159

7 Lost in Translation 191

8 The Standard Bearers 227

9 The Prognosis 261

10 Beyond Britain and America 289

Notes 299

References 331

The Quizzes 345

Quiz Answers 347

Acknowledgments 351

Index 353

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