Mother tongue

Pauline Bryant pbryant at DYNAMITE.COM.AU
Fri Dec 3 12:57:05 UTC 1999

Andrea wrote:

I'm reading Bill Bryson's "Mother Tongue". I would like to hear from
folks on
this list how accurate they think the data is that Bill provides.

I must admit I'm really enjoying it.

I can only judge the rest of the book by the bit I know most about,
i.e. Australian English. What he says is accurate as far as it goes,
apparently based on references available to him in England and the US
when he wrote the book in 1990, but not on what had been published in
Australia. So his most up-to-date information would have been the
earlier received opinion that there are no regional differences in
Australian English. Accordingly he mentions the general uniformity of
speech in Australia (p.102 in the edition sold here), which is
correct, but there is also less noticeable but none the less
quantifiable regionality. Since 1990 some work on this has been more
widely published - maybe it will make it into the next edition.

It's a good read. Do other list members have opinions on how accurate
it is in the areas they know most about?

Pauline Bryant
Australian National University

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