Book Reviews

The Last Word: Tales from the Tip of the Mother Tongue by Ben Macintyre

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List Price: £4.83


Kindle Edition: 324 Pages.

Published: 01 June 2011 by Bloomsbury Paperbacks

Edition: 1



Do you know your geek-speak from your geek-chic? Ever wanted to put Humpty Dumpty together again? Can you distinguish Spanglish from Chinglish? We adapt words from other languages, from slang, from developments in science, literature and art. Learn the advantages of having your own signature word; why the lifts in the House of Commons have posh accents; and discover the discreet art of the loophemism.


5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars5.0 Stars  by Anne

Very enjoyable and interesting

I have a real weakness for books about words and language and this book was just the sort of thing that I enjoy reading. It is the reprint of columns from The Times newspaper and thus the pieces are very short - this is a book that could be dipped into rather than read in one go. I read it during a train journey and it occupied me nicely for the trip - although there were a few occasions when the author uses the same anecdote or piece of information in several sections. This didn't worry me too much as it doesn't happen a lot but if you just dip and out of the book you are less likely to notice it.

The author writes pieces about a wide variety of things including the derivation of nursery rhymes, the origin of pigeon English, invented and resurrected words, words imported from other languages, making words from initials, the size of your vocabulary, literary Darwinism, and strange bookshops among many others. There must be over one hundred different pieces and I found each of them interesting - and if you don't find one to your taste then there will be another one very soon. I have a general interest in words and language and have read similar books before (by Lynne Truss, John Humphrys, Bill Bryson, and others) but there was plenty to engage and amuse me and lots of interesting, and possibly useless, things to learn here. The book doesn't talk down to the reader but it isn't by any stretch of the imagination an academic book. It is written in an entertaining style with a wry humour.

Very enjoyable book - maybe a good gift for someone who shares a love of words and language.

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