Burgess, who invented a teenspeak for the gangs in his novel A Clockwork Orange, infects readers with his love of words in a delightful, wittily urbane romp through the world's languages, in particular ``volatile and hospitable'' English. This is several books in one: a painless primer on linguistics; a survey of tongues from Albanian to Welsh (spoken by King Arthur, a Romanized Celt); the story of alphabets and of language's evolution from prehistoric Indo-European to words like quark ; an exploration of how English became rich and flexible as Old English was transformed into what is spoken and written today. Chapters cover slang and taboo words, great dictionary makers, poetry, the Bible, film dubbing, how Shakespeare spoke his lines. Burgess also offers tips for learning foreign languages and suggestions for secondary-school English teachers. A Mouthful incorporates much of Language Made Plain , published some 30 years ago, but it contains a wealth of new material. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 08/02/1993 Release date: 08/01/1993 Genre:
During the Covid-19 crisis, Publishers Weekly is providing free digital access to our magazine, archive, and website. To receive the access to the latest issue delivered to your inbox free each week, enter your email below.