Author: Arika Okrent
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Maybe you’ve been speaking English all your life, or maybe you learned it later on. But whether you use it just well enough to get your daily business done, or you’re an expert with a red pen who never omits a comma or misplaces a modifier, you must have noticed that there are some things
about this language that are just weird.
Perhaps you’re reading a book and stop to puzzle over absurd spelling rules (Why are there so many ways to say ‘-gh’?), or you hear someone talking and get stuck on an expression (Why do we say “How dare you” but not “How try you”?), or your kid quizzes you on homework (Why is it “eleven and twelve”
instead of “oneteen and twoteen”?). Suddenly you ask yourself, “Wait, why do we do it this way?” You think about it, try to explain it, and keep running into walls. It doesn’t conform to logic. It doesn’t work the way you’d expect it to. There doesn’t seem to be any rule at all.
There might not be a logical explanation, but there will be an explanation, and this book is here to help.
In Highly Irregular, Arika Okrent answers these questions and many more. Along the way she tells the story of the many influences–from invading French armies to stubborn Flemish printers–that made our language the way it is today. Both an entertaining send-up of linguistic oddities and a deeply
researched history of English, Highly Irregular is essential reading for anyone who has paused to wonder about our marvelous mess of a language.