I was impressed and entertained until I reached Bryson's ideas on Australian words and useages. Have to wonder who or what he consulted as it was all incorrect and misleading. That made me question how correct he is about other languages and words. I had intended to buy his other books but won't now do so as he seems far from a genuine authority and I do like the truth! Shame!
An enjoyable trip through our not-so-common language, exploring not only its history and origins, but also the variations found in other countries. To use a known and well-used mangling of it, I found this book unputdownable. 😆 I even learned a few things about the language I grew up with!
This book contains more than you expect. Bill Bryson covers language its self with a focus on English. The book covers speech from a historical view, a physical view, an environmental view, a utilitarian view, and many other views. If you find the tape version, you will want to play the tape over again as it cruses through many concepts that leave you thinking and speculating how it could have all gone differently.
A highlight for me (aside from his dirty word list) was the recognition that we try to impose Old Latin syntaxes on Modern English and it can get redicules.
My only disappointment comes when he mentions things I have already read and gets it wrong or off the mark. You have to worry a little about what you do not know and if to trust him. Still it is a fun book.
The advantage of the tape is that you actually hear the pronunciations. When it is a matter of spelling the reader will spell it out for you. Also the reader has the ability to change accents to fit the dialect samples.
The disadvantage is when you want to turn back to a particular page for cross-reference; there is no page to turn. So I would be smart to own both versions.