Here is the riveting story of the English language, from its humble beginnings as a regional dialect to its current preeminence as the lingua franca of the global market, spoken by one-and-a-half billion people worldwide. Melvyn Bragg's "adventure" takes in the Norman invasion of England in 1066; the arrival of The Canterbury Tales and a "coarse" playwright named William Shakespeare; the songs of slaves and the Lewis and Clark expedition, which led to hundreds of new words as the explorers discovered uncataloged flora and fauna.
"A thorough and incredibly enjoyable trip down a linguistic memory lane."—Bloomsbury Review
"Looking ahead, the book considers how standard language will be shaped by 'other Englishes' employed by those for whom English is a second tongue. It is Bragg's contention that the prevalence of English can be explained in part by such inherent virtues as 'astonishing precision and flexibility,' and whether one agrees with him or not, he is the ideal tour guide here, both entertaining and informative."—Booklist