09 April, 2008

The English Language

This was one of the most satisfying books i have read in a long time. Everything about it was pleasing, from the most basic physical appearance (it's one of the Folio Society books that we bought) to the notes at the end of the volume. It pointed up, once again, for me the irony of a powerful interest in linguistics, which i have, combined with an appalling ability to learn languages, which i also have ~ despite the fact that i am currently struggling to learn two! Burchfield has made a lovely analysis of English, from Anglo-Saxon times to the very recent present, both in England and in other versions spoken. He explains much, in fairly simple terms, of why we speak the way we do, how it developed, touching on basic linguistics as he goes, and with a nice number of illustrations to help make his points. Burchfield speaks with great authority, as he was the editor of the OED for some years, at least during the publication of the latters portions of the Supplement, and possibly during the consolidation of the same. Obviously, he knows of what he writes, but he never ~ literally, not once ~ lost my interest by becoming too technical or resorting to jargon; as far as i am concerned, he is a fluent writer, as well as a knowledgeable one. Thus the time in this book was time very well spent.

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