15 February 2005

Ahhh, Linguistics!

I'm having a great time reading The Adventure of English, although I'd previously read a lot of the facts in my Mario Pei and other linguistics books. Melvin Bragg's writing style reminds me occasionally of James Burke: after a paragraph of talking about how pronounciations change, for instance from "coo" (still used in parts of Scotland) to "cow," and about the Great Vowel Shift, Bragg adds, "...but {linguists] can't say why the great shift happened; or whether it really was one large shift or two or more small ones; or why it happened less in the north (and, as we have seen, not at all to some Scottish cows)." A very Burke-ian quip indeed!

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