The English Is Coming!

Author: Leslie Dunton-Downer

Publisher: Touchstone ( A division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.)

ISBN: 978-1-4391-7665-8

Click Here To Purchase The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World

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.

Click Here To Purchase The English is Coming!: How One Language is Sweeping the World