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A Mouthful of Air: Language and Languages, Especially English [Paperback]

Anthony Burgess
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

16 Sep 1993
A survey of the English language, how it operates now, how it reached its present situation and how it will develop in the future. Burgess writes on Shakespeare's pronunciation, on English newly-generated abroad, on low-life language and on the place of English in the world family of languages.


Product details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New edition edition (16 Sep 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099224011
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099224013
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 109,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Anthony Burgess (25th February 1917-22nd November 1993) was one of the UK's leading academics and most respected literary figures. A prolific author, during his writing career Burgess found success as a novelist, critic, composer, playwright, screenwriter, travel writer, essayist, poet and librettist, as well as working as a translator, broadcaster, linguist and educationalist. His fiction includes Nothing Like the Sun, a recreation of Shakespeare's love-life, but he is perhaps most famous for the complex and controversial novel A Clockwork Orange, exploring the nature of evil. Born in Manchester, he spent time living in Southeast Asia, the USA and Mediterranean Europe as well as in England, until his death in 1993.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars linguistics is fun 15 May 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
An amazing book and a must for any one who thinks they want to teach a language, any language. Burgess writes elegantly and covers huge areas of linguistics in an accessible way. If you have always wanted to know what deep structure, morphemes, phonetics and the great vowel shift are, this is the book for you. Some of his views may be a little outdated now, but you cannot fail to be impressed by the eclectic and quirky knowledge about language gathered together in this book. It's not always an easy read, but it is always entertaining.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great review or introduction 2 Mar 2011
Format:Paperback
Having studied linguistics only a few years after this book was first published, I found it a wonderful way to refresh those basic elements and terms that, after a decade, I had lost touch with. It should also prove to be an excellent primer or introduction for anyone contemplating the study of linguistics, or of any language.

Burgess' prose can sometimes surpass elegance, and in that case foreign readers of English may find this volume more of a struggle. The rich vocabulary and subtle humour, while aiding the native speaker of English through a sometimes dry topic, may prove even more of a hindrance for those approaching English as a second language. However, for the teacher of a foreign language and EFL in particular, the book provides a large number of examples that can be used in the classroom to guide any learner.

This book is a boon for any enthusiast of language, and a must for anyone who works in the field of language acquisition.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully written introduction 25 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book is an excellent introduction to linguistics, as well as an enjoyable read in its own right. I never fail to be filled with admiration for Burgess' breadth of knowledge and writing stle every tme I re-read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars a must-read if you enjoy words 24 Mar 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
What can I say? The man's a genius. Cover to cover reading, or dipping into - though the latter keeps messing up my plans for the day! He's such an easy read and so wise and so erudite! A gift of a read. Thank you.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good 27 July 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Prompt delivery, the seller was very kind (I've found a message inside the book). The book wasn't new, but perhaps it could have been a bit "less used" (front page has many folds): that's the only reason why I don't give it a full five stars vote
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