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The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World (English Edition) [Kindle Edition]

Leslie Dunton-Downer

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“Dunton-Downer is persuasive and, better yet, entertaining. She’s an affable and learned guide to the history and future of Global English. Her skillful, humorous and thoroughly absorbing book shows us that the English language has always been polyglot, and it continues to evolve into a mirror for our global community.” BookPage

"Chockablock with facts, figures and interesting tidbits, this is no stodgy history lesson. " —The Washington Post

“[Dunton-Downer] explores how the spread of English has led the language, and its speakers, down some fascinating paths—with intense implications for English’s future. . . Strongly recommended.” —Library Journal

"A fascinating intellectual romp through the past and the future of the English language.  Like the best cocktail party conversation you’ve ever had, this book is smart, engaging, unpredictable, and leaves you wanting  more.    Leslie Dunton-Downer has created a masterpiece.  If you like words, you will love this book."  —Steven D. Levitt, coauthor of Freakonomics

"An ardent, spirited look at what is increasingly considered the world’s language." —Kirkus Reviews

“You don’t have to be a ‘word person’ to find Leslie Dunton-Downer’s book engaging, illuminating, and even exciting. With ingenious analogies and a healthy dose of humor, she gives us a timely look at the English language—past, present, and future—that’s full of surprising insights and unexpected fun.” —Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog: The Quirky History and Lost Art of Diagramming Sentences

“With fresh wit and original research, The English Is Coming! beckons the reader on a global safari of English. Both casual tourists and experienced hands will delight in stories that surprise on almost every page. Tracking expertly between the past and the present, between linguistic details and global history, Leslie Dunton-Downer ends with a tantalizing glimpse into that most elusive quarry—the future of English.” —Daniel Donoghue, John P. Marquand Professor of English, Harvard University and author of Lady Godiva: A Literary History of the Legend


English has fast become the number one language for everything from business and science, diplomacy and education, entertainment and environmentalism to socializing and beyond—virtually any human activity unfolding on a global scale. Worldwide, nonnative speakers of English now outnumber natives three to one; and in China alone, more people use English than in the United States—a remarkable feat for a language that got its start as a mongrel tongue on an island fifteen hundred years ago.

Through the fascinating stories of thirty English words used and understood in nearly all corners of the globe, The English Is Coming! takes readers on an eye-opening journey across culture and commerce, war and peace, and time and space. These mini-histories shed new light on everyday words: the strange turns of fate by which their meanings evolved and their new roles as the building blocks of the first language ever to forge a global community.

Exploring such familiar terms as shampoo (from a Hindi word for scalp and body hygiene long practiced in India); robot (coined by Czech painter Josef Capek for his brother Karel’s 1921 play about man-made creatures); credit (rooted in a prehistoric phrase of sacred significance: "to put heart into"); and dozens of others, Dunton-Downer reveals with clarity and humor how these linguistic artifacts embody the resilience, appeal, adoptability, and wild inclusiveness that English, through a series of historical accidents, gained on its road to worldwide reach. These words explain not only how English has managed to link our distant and often disparate pasts but also how it is propelling humankind to a future that we can, for the first time, talk about and shape in a language that now belongs to all of us: Global English.

Perfect for culture buffs, armchair travelers, and language lovers alike, The English Is Coming! is sure to inspire truly global conversations for decades to come.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 2851 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 354 Seiten
  • ISBN-Quelle für Seitenzahl: B0078XZLBA
  • Verlag: Touchstone (14. September 2010)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ASIN: B003LL2X46
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Nicht aktiviert
  • Verbesserter Schriftsatz: Nicht aktiviert
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #787.115 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen "I can speak English. I learned it from a book." -- Manuel on Fawlty Towers 11. September 2010
Von takingadayoff - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
It's an exciting time for the English language. All over the world, people are learning English and using it as a lingua franca, a common language. Everyone has an opinion on the merits and the detriments of a single language gaining so much influence - it makes communication easier if more people speak a common language, but at what price? Are other languages being shoved out of existence by this language gorilla?

Meanwhile, while people debate the influence English is having on the world, what influence is the world having on English? It's apparent that the English people are speaking in Singapore, for instance, is not the English people are speaking in Texas or in Zimbabwe. And English, or Englishes, aren't sitting still - they're mutating and morphing at a furious pace. What's happening?

Several recent books attempt to answer these questions and figure out where English is going. The English is Coming is one of the more entertaining ones I've seen lately. Leslie Dunton-Downer initially takes a traditional route by looking at the history of English as a language and as a lingua franca. (You can't tell where you're going until you know where you've been.) She does this in an easy manner, free of academic jargon. I imagine that middle schoolers and older would find it easy to follow.

Dunton-Downer's book is not only conversational in tone, but it appeals to those of us with short attention spans. It jumps from topic to topic smoothly, and breaks things up every so often with the story of a word that has transcended English and gone international, such as taxi and shampoo. Some of the stories are familiar - okay and bikini, for instance. Others choices are debatable, such as cookie and safari. But they are all interesting.

The English is Coming stands in contrast to the recent Globish: How the English Language Became the World's Language by Robert McCrum. McCrum was one of the writers of the excellent PBS series of several decades ago, The Story of English. In Globish, he loses a lot of his credibility by making outrageous claims that English is, by its nature, conducive to democracy and other fine qualities. Globish is rubbish. The English is Coming, on the other hand, is mostly even-handed about English, although Dunton-Downer makes the case that English is an excellent choice for a global language because it is inherently easy to learn. I wonder if that's true - it seems like a difficult language to learn, but as a native English speaker, I can't say.

Other recommended books on global English:
Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler
English as a Global Language by David Crystal
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen A marvelous insight into the origins and character of Global English 13. September 2010
Von Transatlantic bibliophile - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe|Verifizierter Kauf
A timely contribution to the growing literature on the role English plays as a global language, this book is erudite and accessible in equal measure, and wears its impressive scholarship lightly. Threaded throughout its pacey, informative and carefully researched analysis are pearl-like reviews of the origins of 30 words recognisably part of Global English: we learn not just how they entered common speech but why. The writer avoids the triumphalism of recent forays but is fully informed by the role that economic power and post-modern colonialism often plays in ensuring/influencing the spread of English. Most compellingly of all, Ms Dunton-Downer's highly intelligent exegeses provide the basis for a tour-de-force final chapter where she imagines how Global English might evolve in the future. Revealing, riveting, funny and wise, this book will appeal to anyone interested in how languages are born, evolve, mutate and sometimes decline. Loved it.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Wildfire Spread of English Language Explained in Terms of Etymological Roots 31. Oktober 2010
Von L. C. Henderson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This lively and informative account of the origins and development of the English language is written so fluently and well that one can read the entire work in a single sitting, which is definitely not what one can say about many works of non-fiction. The field of linguistics has always appeared to be somewhat daunting to the non-academic, but Leslie Dunton-Downer's smooth-flowing and vibrant text conveys profound insights into the etymologies of more than thirty words in such a way that she makes her comprehensive explanation easily accessible to all.

In place of dry academic pedantries, Dunton-Downer uses amusing anecdotes and imagined scenarios to illustrate the significant points that she makes about the English language. Her example of "anthropomorphized artichokes, some smiling cheerfully, as if eager to be ripped from their native fields, taken in a car to some strange house, steamed in a pot, and devoured" on hand-painted billboards that first helped to prickle her interest in language is an example of such. She also asks several leading questions that should have you thinking far beyond the parameters of The English is Coming! Examples of such questions are: "What is global culture like? What could it become within a generation?"

The readability of the text was clearly a key factor in the writing of this text. A full-out effort is made to avoid any distractions to the general flow of the text. Full-page figures are used to illustrate key points in the text, relatively minor points are elucidated in footnotes and endnotes, and there is a comprehensive index.

For anyone who is interested in the field of sociolinguistics, this work is a gem. The way in which Dunton-Downer traces the history of such words and expressions as "credit card", "cookie" and "lol" could serve as useful examples of how undergraduate students can set about their own research in the field. The English is Coming should make ideal reading for all linguistics college courses. The target audience for the book is most definitely the lay person, with all of the facts that the author presents having as a key focus the interest that they are likely to arouse in the average reader. I, personally, was fascinated by the work from start to finish, and am all the prouder now that I am a home speaker of such a rich and varied language, which has countless opportunities for future expansion. [Reviewer for BookPLeasures.com]
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen Exceptionally readable, illuminating and oh-so-entertaining 5. Oktober 2010
Von I. Holder - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
Though David Crystal will remain my most beloved language and linguistics writer, if more books are forthcoming on this topic from Leslie Dunton-Downer I may need to clear some space on the bookshelves for her works.

Exceptionally readable, illuminating and oh-so-entertaining -- it is great when authors can inject humour into works so easily and without it being over-the-top -- this book, in short self-contained bites [making it a good put-down / pick-up book], looks at the history, current status and a possible future of Global English, and at the end of each chapter delves into the history of 5 or so English words that seem to have spread around the world and become used in other languages.

A great read.
3 von 3 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen The world agrees on many English words 4. November 2010
Von B. Burke - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
As English is undeniably a complicated language, it is not surprising that unraveling the origins of some of its words requires a scholarly approach. Although The English Is Coming! is not an easy read, author Leslie Dunton-Downer has made the subject of linguistics more easily digested by the layman. This book will appeal primarily to those who have a real love for the language, but likewise those who are just curious about word roots. By tracing the origins of 30 words that came into English from elsewhere, and then by tracking their usage a step further into the world at large, Dunton-Downer illustrates how a global English language has evolved.
The author does a good job of explaining the meandering route that brought new words to the English language. The journey through the translations is interesting--more like a family genealogy than a textbook--but I found myself wishing for a visual map to follow the many twists and turns. Although the typical dictionary standard, the Indo-European roots chart, is featured, the author goes beyond what this picture conveys. She proves her central premise by showing how words that may have originated from these sources flowed into English, but then have been adopted worldwide, even by nonnative speakers, creating a nearly universal language comprised of what are now English words.
Even if you don't study the etymologies of all the words outlined, reading any one of them will prove fascinating. Thus we see that "taxi," spawned from French or German, with Latin underpinnings, works its way into English and emerges on the global scene in Bengali, Lithuanian, Persian, and Bosnian as "taksi," Welsh as "tacsi," and in at least 8 other languages with similar pronunciation. All 30 words, which the author sees as helping to form the backbone of modern global English, are examined in detail.
Dunton-Downer also discusses other historic global languages, or lingua franca, such as Latin, in trying to determine the ultimate fate of a global English. Her research is first-rate, focusing in this area on the work of British linguist Nicholas Ostler. In fact, all her research is very well notated, and the book's index is extensive for the size of the volume. The author has a background in languages, having earned her undergrad degree at Harvard in ancient Greek. She is the co-author of another book, published in 2004, the Essential Shakespeare Handbook.
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