Do you remember the first time you looked under the hood of a car or popped off the back of an electric toy to see the inner workings? Well, most of us go through our entire life speaking a highly complex and organized set of sounds we call language without ever getting a glimpse under its hood. So come have a look at some of the hidden springs and gears that have steered energized English over the centuries. King Alfred's English provides a guided tour of forces and events, conquerors and writers that have shaped, simplified, matured and expanded English into what it is today -- the first truly global language in history.
First of all, when I read the title of the book, King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do, I was immediately very interested. Then I read the synopsis above. After reading it, all that I could think about was how badly I wanted to read this book. My daughter and I had started studying Latin last year and, because of how fascinating that has been, I've been really interested in the history of our language. I wanted to read this book...for me!
About King Alfred's English
A light course in four subject areas:
History - Get a fun and enlightening view of English history in the format of major language "invasions" and how they changed the shape and form of English.
Linguistics - Learn how words morph and mutate, how grammar shifts and simplifies and, with some crazy word histories thrown in, get a fresh look at language altogether.
English Literature - Woven into this history are the stories of several key English authors whose prose and poetry influenced the development of English. Optional online literature selections that expand the lessons are available on the course website.
The English Bible - See why the English Bible had an unparalleled impact on the development of our language. Learn the story of the Reformation and the men who, in some cases, gave their lives so we could read the Bible in our native tongue.
Also available: FREE supplemental Material for Students. Worksheets, tests, and research activities with links to related topics are available for each chapter at www.theshorterword.com
My first impression was a good one. When the book arrived it was autographed by the author, Laurie J. White. That shows me that she is passionate about her product. And she should be. It is fascinating. I learned a lot of the history of our language and about history in general.
For starters, I learned that writing X-mas instead of Christmas is not like "crossing the Christ out of Christmas" like my aunt used to nag me over. She just doesn't know a lick about the Greek alphabet or the Roman emperor Constantine.
British and English are not one in the same. In fact, they weren't even on friendly terms.
That guy who coined the phrase, "Ain't ain't a word because it ain't in the dictionary", doesn't exactly have the whole story. It might not be in the dictionary but it is in the works of Austen and Shakespeare. Poor 'ain't' is an example of shifting grammar standards.
Want a little clue about why the English language can be a tad confusing, especially on those SATS? Just compare dictionaries around the world.
French dictionary - 100,000 word entries
Russian dictionary - 130 000 word entries
German dictionary - 185,000 word entries
Oxford English Dictionary - 615,000 word entries
Wozers! Mystery solved. lol
I told you that this book was fascinating! And what I've shared with you is the tip of the iceberg in the fascinating facts category. I feel ready to play some Trivial Pursuit.
And, on top of making me feel smarter, it would be a wonderful source for a full semester of history for your middle school or high school student. With all the extra articles, videos, worksheets, tests (and more) that she provides on her site, for FREE, you could easily award your student a half credit if you do it right. I'm looking forward to doing just that with my daughters when they're ready for it.
I love this book!
Age Range: 7-12th grade and for curious adults
Price: $16.95 for soft cover and $5.95 for the Kindle
There are many ways to purchase the book, so be sure to check the website to see them all. There are also samples available on the website.
And guess what?? The author is generously offering 50% off for the first five readers who comment on this review. So if you're interested in the fascinating history of our English language leave a comment and don't forget your email addy, so I can send you the discount code. The code will be good through September.
Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. All opinions are my own.