Monday, February 27, 2006

The Story Of English

the story of english
Originally uploaded by pookie_san99.
I recently finished this informative book by Robert McCrum,Robert MacNeil and William Cran.Its the book of a BBC television series I've not seen.It charts the origins,growth and influences of the English tongue. Chronically,it tracks the different varieties and impact it had and continues to have in the world.The book is full of interesting bits and pieces of information.Shakespeare for example was calculated to have a vocabulary of some 30,000 words.Estimates of the normal educated persons vocabulary average out at half that i.e 15,000 words.
Some points are raised such as the fact that words can be used to include or exclude people from a group which I'd not thought about before.
Also noted was the fact that words can evolve and expand their meaning.One example I've seen recently is the word "diaspora".Originally it was used to describe the dispersal of the Jews outside of Israel at the time of the destruction of the First Temple around 6 BC.Now however its applied to other peoples with large numbers living outside their traditional lands.I recently read of the "Irish diaspora" coined apparently in the 1990's by the then Irish President Mary Robinson.

At the books conclusion the authors predict that the English language will become an international, standardised level one co-existing with a localised and non-standard indigneous form.
A highly readable book on what could have been a dry,dour subject.

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