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The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English
 
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The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English [Kindle Edition]

Mark Abley
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £8.99
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Product Description

Review

"[A] fascinating account of developing English." (The Times)

"In The Prodigal Tongue, Mark Abley investigates the deep flux in contemporary English... Attuned to pop culture as well as to scholarship...it stylishly covers a large amount of ground, from Lee Kuan Yew to YouTube, via Spike Lee and Ice Cube... Joyous - a paean to the dynamic energies of English." (Telegraph)

"The Prodigal Tongue takes the reader on an informative and frequently entertaining journey." (Edmonton Journal)

"[A] witty and well-documented treatise on the ways -- some of them alarming -- in which the English language is changing" (Winnipeg Free Press)

"As a poet, journalist, editor, intrepid traveller, scholar and endlessly curious spirit, Abley brings an appropriately eclectic perspective to the subject. ... Writing as an inquisitive, bemused Everyman, Abley leads us on a lively intellectual journey through uncharted territory, his comfort in the zone of ambiguity making him the ideal travel guide" (The Gazette)

Book Description

From Ice Cube to You Tube via 'Singlish' and Bouncebackability - Mark Abley travels the globe to report on the dynamic new forces shaping the future of the English language

Product Description

Mark Abley takes the reader on a world-wide trip like no other - from Singapore to Japan, Oxford to Los Angeles, through the web and even back in time. As much a travel book as a linguistic study, this book goes beyond grammar and vocabulary; more importantly, this book is about the people of the world.



On his travels Abley encounters bloggers, translators, novelists, therapists, dictionary makers, hip-hop performers and web-savvy teenagers. He talks to a married couple who were passionately corresponding online before they met in 'meatspace.' And he listens to teenagers, puzzling out the words they coin in chat rooms and virtual worlds.



Lively, evocative, passionate and hilarious, this is a book for everyone who cherishes the words we use.

From the Inside Flap

English has unarguably become the world's dominant language. And languages die out every decade. But what is the future of today's languages?

Is it simply more of the same? Are languages doomed to lose much of their local flavour? Are 'creoles' - or merged languages, such as 'Spanglish' - merely a by-product of colonialism, and destined to die out? Or could they even become threats to 'English' one day? In Mark Abley's fascinating new book, he seeks out and listens to individuals. He visits a school in Toronto where the children speak more than 140 different mother tongues; investigates how African American Vernacular English, also known as Ebonics, is spreading out of American inner cities and into the suburbs; he asks what the unmistakeable slip toawards informality and the growth of acronyms tell us about the lingusitic future; and he explores the new languages of mobile phone texting and online chat rooms, asking if they can really be considered to be an enrichment of language.

Future Language argues that the best reason to fear for language is not a supposed decline in grammatical standards but rather a rise in mutual incomprehensibility. While English has far more speakers than any other language, it also has many more words, which are often abbreviated, corrupted, or otherwise privatised to create registers understandable to the few, rather than the many. The result is an irresistable journey around the linguistic globe, stimulating, provocative and intelligent, and constantly open to the vitality and playful invention that make languages what they are.

From the Back Cover

[quote tk]

The Prodigal Tongue takes us on a world-wide trip like no other -- from Singapore to Japan, Oxford to Los Angeles, through the web and even back in time. On his travels Abley encounters bloggers, translators, novelists, therapists, dictionary makers, hip-hop performers and web-savvy teenagers. He talks to a married couple who were passionately corresponding online before they met in 'meatspace.' And he listens to teenagers, puzzling out the words they coin in chatrooms and virtual worlds.

As much a travel book as a linguistic study, this book goes beyond grammar and vocabulary; more importantly, this book is about the people of the world.

[quote tk]

About the Author

Mark Abley, winner of Canada's National Newspaper Award, has written for the TLS and the Guardian among other publications. He is the author of one other book on language - the acclaimed Spoken Here, as well as three books of poetry.
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