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Eager reader of history, mystery, classics, biographies, steampunk, lit fic, science, scifi, and etc. My reviews are mostly positive--I rarely finish or write about books I don't enjoy. My TBR is too high for that.

Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language

Inventing English: A Portable History of the Language - Seth Lerer This took a while to finish--I read a chapter a day. Most of the chapters end like the grand finale of a book--Lerer writes in his intro that chapters don't need to be read in sequence. Lerer loves his subject and language in general, but sometimes I (maybe peevishly) think that his great enjoyment comes a little bit at his reader's expense. There is a glossary in back, but for me it could be twice as long. It doesn't include all the many polysyllabic words with Latin and Greek roots ending in "-ology", or "-graphy", or etc., that (for me) clog up the text and make reading sometimes have the cumbersome feel of translating. Lerer uses dramatic figurative language, and like early English poets he loves alliteration. (It's a lively lexical landscape!) His words bristle with so much life and almost self-aware purpose that sometimes his pages feel noisy and crowded. And then there are the sentences like, "Behind them lies a conception of vernacular character and the character of the vernacular." (P 116)Those mild complaints aside, this is a fascinating subject and Lerer is a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide. I really love his Teaching Company lectures on the history of the English language and it's nice to have some of that information in book form.