Thursday, August 9, 2012

King Alfred's English

King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak And Why We Should Be Glad We Do by Laurie White has fast become one of my most-referred to books. I read the e-book version, which was a new thing for me. I'd never read anything but magazines on our iPad before, so it took me a while to get used to the new format. (Like how the page numbers shift if you change from Portrait to Landscape, and the pictures might be on the left instead of the right.)

King Alfred's English, Book reviews, English Grammar

This is a book about the history of Great Britain, and a book about the history of the English language, and how the two grew, were invaded multiple times, and both ended up better at the end than at the beginning.

The story begins with Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain in 55 BC. It travels a long, winding path through British history (because it is rather amazing that Britain and the English Language even survived!), tells you more about King Alfred and his vision for Britain, and travels through many wars, invasions, and language pick-pockets.

King Alfred was an amazing man, who was in the right place, and stood for what he believed in at the right time, to make a defining moment in British history. If you'd like to know more about Alfred, Laurie White has some amazing additional *free!* resources available at:
Alfred was the fourth son of the King, a student and a warrior, and he was prepared to face all the devastation that arose around him. It took seven years of war after he ascended to the throne, but his leadership preserved Wessex and united Britain.

I enjoyed Laurie's division of the English language into Old, Middle, transitional, and Modern English. I particularly liked the part about Shakespeare...oh that I could write like that! Really- you need to at least read chapter 14 if you  don't read any other part of this book. You can download the Kindle version for only $5.95.

Ok, so WHY did I like the book? Well, many reasons worked together to make this a great time for  me to read about our language. We're getting ready to begin studying Latin this fall, and the book talks about the many ways & times Latin has influenced our language. It was also encouraging to learn that since Latin is a "dead" language (no one speaks it as their native tongue anymore,) it won't change while we're learning it! I've been blogging for a while, and it was interesting to learn about how languages shift (and simplify) over time as they are spoken. The correlations shown in the book between Anglo-saxon, Old Norse, and Latin words re-emphasized why many words have the same sign in American Sign Language, because they really DO all mean the same thing. That is encouraging to my ongoing study of ASL.

So who would I recommend this to? I would say High School and above. It could be understood by most 12-13 year olds, but I don't think they would enjoy it as much as I did. The book should be enjoyed by anyone who is learning a foreign language at the High School level or above, or who loves reading about history, or really is a page-turner!

This book gave me a greater appreciation for the struggle I see foreigners going through as they learn English. Our "rules" are more like "suggestions!" It also helped me realize just how great our brains are that we can learn a difficult syntax just by growing up with parents and people around us who speak English daily. While I was in the midst of reading, one of my friends posted this picture about English on their fb page. Reading the book has taught me just how true it is!

Right now, the best price for the printed version is available at CBD for $14.04. King Alfred's English

So Moms, read the book, and appreciate how hard your children are working to learn the English language. Dads, read the stories of wars & heroism to your children. Teach then about standing up for their beliefs. Students, read the book, and you'll see that learning Latin, French, German, or Spanish is really not that hard in comparison to the English you've already learned.

As a member of the TOS Crew, the e-book version was provided to me free of charge, in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are mine.


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