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Made In America: An Informal History of American English (Bryson) Paperback – 2 Apr 1998
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Bill Bryson's "Informal History of the English Language in the United States" is, in a word, fascinating. After reading this tour de force, it's clear that a nation's language speaks volumes about its true character: you are what you speak. Bryson traces America's history through the language of the time, then goes on to discuss words culled from everyday activities: immigration, eating, shopping, advertising, going to the movies, and others.
Made in America will supply you with interesting facts and cocktail chatter for a year or more. Did you know, for example, that Teddy Roosevelt's "speak softly and carry a big stick" credo has its roots in a West African proverb? Or that actor Walter Matthau's given name is Walter Mattaschanskayasky? Or that the supposedly frigid Puritans--who called themselves "Saints," by the way--had something called a pre-contract, which was a license for premarital sex? Made in America is an excellent discussion of American English, but what makes the book such a treasure is that it offers much, much more.
"A tremendously sassy work, full of zip, pizzazz and all those other great American qualities" (Will Self Independent on Sunday)
"Immensely entertaining... a sharp eye for odd facts and amusing anecdotes" (Michael Sheldon Daily Telegraph)
"The book is a triumph. Bryson carries it off by his joie de vivre, his unadorned prose and the sheer width of his snooping beneath the skin of the American dream" (Literary Review)
"Funny, wise, learned and compulsive" (GQ)
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Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed reading it but found it difficult to hold when relaxing... I must say Bill Bryson has immense knowledge and can impart it well... I had hoped to find a little more about the way Americanisms are creeping into the English language (Which I deplore.
Interesting, light-hearted yet immensely learned- it is the type of book you'll be referencing and discussing at dinner parties for years to come. Brilliantly written to appeal to readers on both sides of the pond.
While different from the travel books that Bryson is so famous for, this new genre of writing is no less wonderful.
Bryson dissects language as used by our American brethren and does so by following the history and evolution of the American nation. Truly fascinating stuff, but nonetheless not one of Bryson's easier reads.
Having said that, there is so much more than etymology. The anecdotes are amusing, and you will find yourself repeating them to everyone you know. The work that debunks urban myths is fascinating and, as is often the case, fact is stranger than fiction; some of the truths behind words and phrases are truly special.
The lists of when words were first used did not appeal to me personally, although I am perfectly willing to believe that there are people out there who would be interested, but they are fairly easy to skip.
The one thing I take away from this book more than anything else is respect for American English. As a young Englishman, I have been pre-conditioned into a certain disregard for 'Americanisms'. Yet after reading this book, you will see how useful many of these words are, and the ones we choose to attack are very limited. I think the book is worth reading for this information alone.
In conclusion, a good read that you can take your time over.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have found this book hard to get into unlike others that I have found entertaining'Published 4 months ago by Ron Bainbridge
I really thank your services for the delivery of this item. My husband is a great Bryson fan and every now and then I offer him one of his books to complete his collection. Read morePublished 5 months ago by moka
I am a great fan of Bill Bryson so it is maybe unfair for me to comment. But - I think I have every book he has written and this is the latest. Read morePublished 5 months ago by roger
Mr Bryson has a knack of making any subject he tackles interesting.
The origins of what the Americans have done with the English language are facinating.
Very informative and funny, as we are used to with Bill Bryson's books.Published 7 months ago by Cliente Amazon
If you thought there is no such thing as 'American Culture' it's a must-read. Also, if you're a language enthusiast. Also, if you like the 50's America. Read morePublished 12 months ago by kpingvin