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The Story of English: How the English language conquered the world Paperback – 28 Apr 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Quercus (28 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857383280
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857383280
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 2.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 673,023 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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"A handy pocket guide." --PublishersWeekly.com

From the Back Cover

Born as a Germanic tongue with the arrival in Britain of the Anglo-Saxons in the early medieval period, heavily influenced by Norman French from the 11th century, and finally emerging as modern English from the late Middle Ages, the English language has grown to become the linguistic equivalent of a superpower. Worldwide, some 380-million people speak English as a first language and some 600-million as a second language. A staggering one-billion people are believed to be learning it. English is the premier international language in communications, science, business, aviation, entertainment, diplomacy, and on the Internet. It is thought by many to be well on the way to becoming the world's first universal language. Philip Gooden tells the story of the English language in all its richness and variety. From the intriguing origins and changing definitions of common words such as 'OK', 'berserk', 'curfew', 'cabal' and 'pow-wow', to the massive transformation wrought in the vocabulary and structure of the language by Anglo-Saxon and Norman conquest, through to the literary triumphs of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales and the works of Shakespeare, right up to the profound and surprising effect electronic media have had on its development. The Story of English is a fascinating tale of linguistic, social and cultural transformation, told accessibly and authoritatively.


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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Adrenalin Streams on 4 Mar. 2012
Format: Paperback
I'm not quite sure why Philip Gooden decided to call his book "The Story Of English" when there is already an excellent book by Robert McCrum of the same title, linked to a TV series from around 25 years ago. That being said, this book is a useful addition to the canon on language history. Gooden simplifies matters by looking at the development of English under broad headings, corresponding to well known periods of European or British history. He is good on how spelling has changed over the years, how English has taken in many words from other languages, and how it is non-mother tongue countries that are now driving its development. I suggest that if you are interested in the subject you read this book, along with McCrum's, and Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue".
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By gw on 31 Oct. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
this started out well, but in the middle did seem to loose its way
i was hoping to find out things like why new zealanders developed their accent, and the regional dialect changes in Britain but these were not really addressed
if anyone is interested there is a great podcast- thehistoryofenglish which goes into matters in much greater detail
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jane Brown on 19 Nov. 2011
Format: Paperback
I first borrowed this book from the library and soon realized what a wealth of interest it contained with mention of books, some familiar but others previously unknown to me. This will lead me to a study of books mentioned and also of current English usage. A friend who also read the book agreed it is a fascinating read.
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Format: Paperback
Overall an enjoyable read but I think the title is somewhat misleading. I suspect the "how the English language conquered the world" was at the insistence of the editor as it's clearly an afterthought.

I echo the sentiment of another reviewer that it would have been interesting to explore the development/diversion of English in the former colonies in more detail. This of course would have changed the tone of the book. As it stands, far more emphasis is placed on the development of the English language as opposed to its ascension as a global language - hence my previous comment regarding the title.

Nevertheless an enjoyable read which is also easy to follow despite the inherent dullness of explaining grammatical quirks. No small feat!

Only additional comment is the structure is somewhat odd. The book flows reasonably well but by the end it almost feels as if these were autonomous chapters arbitrarily strung together. This is perhaps more a comment on the last chapter specifically. I felt it was oddly placed and ended so abruptly with no real commentary on the overall significance of what gooden was trying to say. Somewhat disappointing and reason for 3 stars as opposed to 4
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Dreamboat on 28 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I thought this started well, but the nod to 'celebrities' towards the end was irritating. David Crystal covers some of the same ground and I'd recommend his titles (Global English, for example) rather than this book.
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Format: Paperback
I thought this book was excellent. I have not read any other titles on this subject so I found it an interesting and well informed introduction. I thought the pace was good and the knowledge of the writer seemed strong and coherent. This has spurred my interest in the English language to new heights and I will take on board the recommendations of others when looking to further my reading on this subject matter. I have and will, recommended this book to others.
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By A.A . Wade on 20 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Easy to read and entertaing.It gives all the influences on the English language and its developmentin a logical chronologial way. It also gives the modern changes that have taken place and the reasons why some have failed to catch on. I would recommend this book to all who love the English language
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By J. Croad on 26 Jan. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is a must for everyone who speaks the lingo. Philip
Gooden brings the whole story of English alive in an informative and amusing way, clearing up some of the myths and mysteries along the journey. My only concern is that I've gotten my grammar correct in this review. Lol!!!
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