The Mother Tongue (Linguistics) Review

The Mother Tongue (Linguistics)
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The Mother Tongue (Linguistics) ReviewI've read, studied, and re-read this book for forty-two years, and it's an endless source of joy. But the title should have been The Mother TongueS. Hogben argues that since our English vocabulary is a composite of dozens of other languages, one can more easily learn Latin, French, Greek, and so on by determining the meaning and origin of words from those languages. While this method doesn't aid in learning other grammatical structures, or not greatly, it does build vocabulary--and it's enormous fun to learn where a word like "telephone" comes from! (No, I won't tell you. You should have the fun of looking it up in this book.)
The author's little end-of-chapter quizzes are equally amusing and informative. Write your answers lightly in pencil, and you can keep erasing them and re-taking the quizzes. There's also a delightful table of Indo-European cognates, and seeing them laid out in Hogben's chart one wonders why the deep-time connections, although vaguely guessed as early as Roman times, were not systematized until the 18th and 19th centuries.
I majored in Linguistics as an undergrad, although this amusing book was written afterward. Most of us who love messing around with language grabbed a copy of The Mother Tongue when it first came out in 1964, and I'd bet that quite a few youngsters in generations younger than mine became entranced by linguistics and etymology thanks to this wonderful book! My only real quibble with it is that it lacks an index, but it would make a great Christmas present for a bright teen-ager.The Mother Tongue (Linguistics) Overview

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