Books by Donna Brook

Released: April 20, 1998

This spirited tour of the origin and growth of the English language, only slightly longer than a picture book, can get boosterish ("in India, gaining education, power, and wealth means learning English"), but illustrates well the simple fact that languages don't evolve in a vacuum. Brook's first book opens on the Indo-European rootstock, then explains how it was fiddled with by the Celts, who subsequently found their language shaped by Anglo-Saxon and Norse influences to arrive at Old English. By the time the French were through with Old English, it had become Middle English. She moves through the addition of Latin and Greek, comments briefly on the Great Vowel Shift of the 15th century and other etymological curiosities, and speculates on the future of English, such as the gradual distancing of American English and British English. Also introduced are significant personalities in the use and development of English, from Gutenberg to Chaucer and Bacon and Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson to James Murray (the fellow behind the OED). Zallinger's artwork takes a realistic approach that works well covering both the language's ancient origins and its more contemporary influences. (maps, bibliography, index) (Nonfiction. 7-12) Read full book review >