Language fascinates me, and not just English. I have studied in school French, Russian, and German. And I have learned some of at least a half dozen other languages using Duolingo. I am particularly interested in the history and oddities of language, English in particular, in books like Eats, Shoots & Leaves. The latest book I’ve read along these lines is Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme–And Other Oddities of the English Language by Akira Okrent.
In short little essays, this book answers questions like “How can an exception prove a rule?” and “Why do noses run and feet smell?” or even “Why is there an ‘r’ in Mrs.?” Some answers are more clear cut than others. Most have their roots in the Norman conquest, the roots of English as a Germanic language, or the evolution of natural language use. But all are presented in an entertaining style that had me laughing out loud at times.
This book isn’t for the linguist in anyone. It’s for those of us who get frustrated by the weirdness that is the English language and are curious about how it got the way it is. It isn’t a dry and dusty history but a fun jaunt through the crazy walkabout that is the history of the English language.
My rating: 4/5