Synopses & Reviews
Righting the Mother Tongue
tells the cockamamie story of English spelling. When did ghost
acquire its silent 'h'? Will cyberspace kill the one in rhubarb
? And was it really rocket scientists who invented spell-check?
Seeking to untangle the twisted story of English spelling, David Wolman takes us on a wordly adventure from English battlefields to Google headquarters. Along the way, he pickets with spelling reformers outside the national spelling bee, visits the town in Belgium, not England, where the first English books were printed, and takes a road-trip with the boss at Merriam-Webster Inc. The journey is punctuated by spelling battles waged by the likes of Samuel Johnson, Noah Webster, Theodore Roosevelt, Andrew Carnegie and the members of today's Simplified Spelling Society.
Rich with history, pop culture, curiosity and humor, Righting the Mother Tongue explores how English spelling came to be, traces efforts to mend the code and imagines the shape of tomorrow's words.
"Sprightly history that sensibly balances the merits of standardization against the forces for freedom." Kirkus Reviews
“A funny and fact-filled look at our astoundingly inconsistent written language, from Shakespeare to spell-check.”
—St. Petersburg Times
David Wolman explores seven hundred years of trial, error, and reform that have made the history of English spelling a jumbled and fascinating mess. In Righting the Mother Tongue, the author of A Left-Hand Turn Around the World brings us the tangled story of English Spelling, from Olde English to email. Utterly captivating, deliciously edifying, and extremely witty, Righting the Mother Tongue is a treat for the language lover—a book that belongs in every personal library, right next to Eats, Shoots, and Leaves, and the works of Bill Bryson and Simon Winchester.
About the Author
David Wolman is the author of A Left-Hand Turn Around the World and writes for magazines such as Wired, Newsweek, Outside, National Geographic Traveler and New Scientist. He lives in Portland, OR.