coverMade in America
Bill Bryson

This book is supposedly about the evolution of American English and how it managed to become so different from the original “British” English. It ends up being sort of a “different” history of the United States, instead.

It is filled with interesting facts and anecdotes, most of them leading to the addition of new words to the (American version of the) English language, from all kinds of sources. Starting with the first pilgrims landing at Plymouth Rock (or, as Bryson tells us, not exactly there) and encoutering english-speaking natives, it tells a very colourful and interesting story.

The book is at its best in the first few chapters, which explore the first years of American history. It starts to lose some of its charm as we get close to the current years, and the last chapters seem a little disjointed, with a bunch of anecdotes thrown together without much care. The two or three paragraphs dedicated to the computer-related words that entered the “mainstream” language is particularly disappointing, as he manages to make glaring mistakes when talking about the words “hacker” and “bug”. One can only hope that the rest of his research was of better quality.

In any case, it is a very entertaining book; the author writes in a very enjoyable style, and some parts of it can actually make you laugh out loud. Recommended.

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