Read Our Marvelous Native Tongue by Robert Claiborne Online


Traces the history of the English language, starting several hundred thousand years ago with the Indo-Europeans. Robert Claiborne then continues with the Anglo-Saxon invaders of England whose language developed into Old English, which in turn slowly developed into Middle English after the Norman Invasion. He also gives an overview of the various dialects of English and slaTraces the history of the English language, starting several hundred thousand years ago with the Indo-Europeans. Robert Claiborne then continues with the Anglo-Saxon invaders of England whose language developed into Old English, which in turn slowly developed into Middle English after the Norman Invasion. He also gives an overview of the various dialects of English and slang....

Title : Our Marvelous Native Tongue
Author :
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ISBN : 9780812916355
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 339 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Our Marvelous Native Tongue Reviews

  • Phyl
    2019-03-14 06:48

    Did you know that the word "jungle" started out meaning "desert"? That is one of the many fascinating things Robert Claiborne discusses in this great book. He describes the history and development of the English language, from its misty roots in Indo-European, up to the time of his writing. I love this book every time I read it, even if it was written 24 years ago. I'm a word geek, so I'm constantly devouring books about the creation of the OED, or the history of English, etc. I didn't realize till I read the Wikipedia article that Claiborne wasn't a trained linguist; you wouldn't know that, reading the book. He had a scholarly mind, and edited and wrote science articles, so he was qualified to take on the subject, once he'd done some thorough personal study. I enjoy how he brings the subject down to earth from the stratosphere of academic study. He talks to the reader like an ordinary person. He makes the growth of the English language vivid and alive.He also demonstrates what places like the French Academy haven't yet learned, even after a few hundred years: you can't straitjacket a language. And there is no such thing as a "pure language." A few hundred years ago when Jonathan Swift proposed an institution to try to freeze English, a high percentage of the new French words that Swift and his pals complained about were the second wave of French imports. Swift et al constantly used words from the first wave, to complain about the second wave, and didn't seem to notice. The best you can do with a languge is try to standardize some grammatical rules so people using different dialects, with different accents, can still communicate intelligibly in writing and speech. But beyond that -- you'll never freeze a language in place. So the word "jungle," which originally meant "desert," gradually changed to mean "uncultivated land." And gradually changed again, to mean "uncultivated forest." Thence, to the meaning we understand today. The meaning and use of words is determined by the users, not imposed on them from some Authority, some god, some government.In a recent example, which I'm sure would have had Claiborne screaming in glee, McDonalds has been petitioning the Oxford English Dictionary to change its definition of the word "McJob." As the OED describes it, the word currently means, "an unstimulating, low-paid job with few prospects."This has upset McDonalds. Yet the thing is -- the OED didn't make up the definition! They just noticed (with many citations) how ENGLISH SPEAKERS ACTUALLY USE THE WORD -- and recorded it. (My view: if McDonalds objects to the definition of "McJob," they should change the nature of the damn jobs, so people no longer view them that way! Ahem.)I heard the Editor-at-Large of the Oxford English Dictionary interviewed about this on CBC Radio. The interviewer asked what the chances were that the definition would be changed as a result of the petition. The Editor replied, "None at all." The only thing that would change the definition would be a change in how people actually use the word.And that's exactly Robert Claiborne's point, in this book. You can trace the waves and discover when (and often why) certain words entered English. But you can't stop them coming in, and you can't stop the language from evolving. The only languages that don't evolve are dead.

  • Edward Tilley
    2019-02-26 10:51

    Terrific read; no-one should count themselves properly educated without understanding this very well presented material. There is much more here than language; lessons learned in philosophy, history, human behaviour, economics - to name just a few. The requisite minutia of language has to be slow in bits- but this slow-yet-still-interesting discussion (of slangs, dialects, accents) begins after page 200. Loved this book's 1990 release too!

  • C.J. Hill
    2019-03-14 12:08

    This is a very interesting book explaining how English got to be the way it is today, with all the influences from far and wide that have had an impact on spelling, usage and pronunciation. With lots of surprising information and examples, it was not as difficult as I imagined to stay interested in the content.

  • Daniel
    2019-02-25 07:53

    Robert Claiborne, a commentator on various subjects from etymology to politics - and a victim of McCarthyism - takes a comprehensive view of the history of the English language. Moving forward from the spread of Indo-Europeans, Claiborne dissects the early roots of English and moves on through Chaucer, the Renaissance, and modern variants of the language. He gets lost in the one later section of the book, which is devoted to arguments among 20th century opinions of proper English usage. He refutes certain interpretations of grammar and syntax and establishes a pragmatic position on the language, which itself is fully consistent with the book's broader embrace of neologisms and borrowings, but ultimately he fails to establish a firm foothold among the disputing parties. Rather, the chapter presents a fractured view of contemporary English which is inconsistent with the exuberant syncretism presented in previous chapters. The reader infers that Claiborne had a clear sense of the way forward, but the text falls short of charting that course.Nevertheless, the majority of the book is a happy pastiche of history and etymology. The author hops spryly around the various roots and branches of English, conveying a genuine love and interest for the subjects he describes.

  • Tani
    2019-03-04 13:56

    A few weeks ago, I found myself wanting to read something on the origins of language, so I asked for some recommendations from a community I'm a member of. This is one of the books I was recommended. It's not quite what I was looking for, but I still really enjoyed reading it. It traces the history of the development of the English language up until the time it was published. Which is a wholly boring summary of a book that isn't boring at all. Claiborne makes learning about the history of English an interactive process. Moreover, he makes it an interesting one that I highly enjoyed. The book isn't just history, however. It also addresses issues that are more cogent for today's world: issues of dialect and of illiteracy and teaching methods. The book is over 20 years old now, so obviously it's going to be a little dated, but I still found it to be a pertinent discussion of issues which still exist today. It also sparked my interest; I may have to look into those issues myself and find out where we currently stand!

  • Abbie
    2019-03-18 09:44

    Very informative and great read. I used this book as a source for a research paper on the history of the English language and I'm glad I found it. It not only tells what sort of words arrived in the language when and by whom, but also tells the story of it all. And it wasn't a dry read at all, and even if I wasn't extremely interested in the topic I don't think it would be hard for me to get into. If you are interested in Eglish's past, consider hunting down a copy of this and give it a read--it's pretty cool.

  • Ignacio Nova
    2019-03-22 08:42

    This is the book that jump-started my love affair with linguistics. This book is well written and makes even the dry stuff interesting.

  • Charles
    2019-03-19 15:02

    A really excellent book. Is both fun and informative to read.

  • Peter Tillman
    2019-03-25 09:04

    A history of the English language. For me, B/DNF. Interesting but tiresome. Caveat lector!

  • John
    2019-03-07 09:46

    Probably my favourite book on the evolution of the English language.

  • Bea Alden
    2019-03-14 14:48

    Commentary on contemporary English usage in the United States.

  • Keith
    2019-02-24 12:45

    Great book on English language history.