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Righting the Mother Tongue: From Olde English to Email, the Tangled Story of English Spelling (Hardcover)
December 2008 Indie Next List
“An informative and humorous look at how we ended up with our English orthography. This is a book for many of us who find that English words never look quite right -- even when correctly spelled. A wonderful weekend read!”
— Fran Wilson, Colorado State Univ. Bookstore, Fort Collins, CO
"A funny and fact-filled look at our astoundingly inconsistent written language, from Shakespeare to spell-check."
--St. Petersburg Times David Wolman explores seven hundred years of trial, error, and reform that have made the history of English spelling a jumbled and fascinating mess. In Righting the Mother Tongue, the author of A Left-Hand Turn Around the World brings us the tangled story of English Spelling, from Olde English to email. Utterly captivating, deliciously edifying, and extremely witty, Righting the Mother Tongue is a treat for the language lover--a book that belongs in every personal library, right next to Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, and the works of Bill Bryson and Simon Winchester.
“Sprightly history that sensibly balances the merits of standardization against the forces for freedom.”
“A funny and fact-filled look at our astoundingly inconsistent written language, from Shakespeare to spell-check.”
-St. Petersburg Times
An intellectual travelogue across the centuries that also ranges geographically from the Litchfield haunts of Dr. Johnson, creator of the first great English dictionary, to the Silicon Valley home of Les Earnest, the progenitor of computerized spell-checking.
-Wall Street Journal
“An engaging ramble through our orthographic thickets”
The lively, informative book is full of evidence/cocktail party fodder proving that the English spelling system is a hopeless tangle of French, Dutch, Latin, German and much, much more and really makes no sense at all.
A lively, engaging look at the idiosyncratic derivations and permutations of spelling in the English language.
-Seattle Post Intelligencer