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Not quite what I was expecting...
on 18 June 2013
Horobin takes us through the history of the English language and its spelling, from the regional variances that started the inconsistent approaches and constant `battles' to standardise, through the many times since where the English language has adopted words from Latin, French, Greek and how attempts at spelling reform were only partially implemented which actually added to the confusion! I appreciate much more now how phonetics and pronunciation have influenced the written language and that continues today. It's true that the book does fall short between being a true academic reference book and casual light read but perhaps that may give it broader appeal? The constant references to the phonetic / spoken English would probably make the book work better as an audio book as I found it hard going to get those sounds into my head and understand the application in each case. The references back to the ancient alphabets and characters is also hard going, especially as there are few reference tables to help with a quick look-up (only a phonetic symbols list). So I did find it a tough read through the middle sections which explore beginnings and revision. However, the book certainly ends on a lighter note with the final chapter considering current factors influencing spelling, such as electronic and social media. So, not quite as light a read as I was expecting but informative all the same.