Book of the Month
A Little Book of English

Publisher: Biscuit Digital Productions
Author: Philip Matyszak


Intermediate +

Once upon a time, books were carefully typed on single, precious manuscripts by authors and mailed as a bulky package to the publisher. Eventually the book would be printed, and if a buyer could not go the the bookshop to obtain the book personally, a lengthly correspondence would result in a cheque going into the post, and in the fullness of time, a book coming back the other way. Now let's do the same thing in the digital era. The author gives a link to the online web repository where the book is stored, and the publisher edits it there. Within weeks - not months or years - the book is formatted, and uploaded to an online bookstore. And if you want this book, you can be reading it on your digital reader five minutes after following this link.

Indeed, we live in interesting times. And as this book points out, English is changing with the times. In fact the original source of this book was a blog - something else which has only recently come into being as a child of the internet. This was 'The Prof's English Blog' a popular area on this site in which a writer and EFL teacher known as 'the Prof' muses on changes to the English Language, occasionally vents his frustration at how poorly English is used, and comments, approvingly or otherwise, on new uses of English as they appear. Etymology (the origin of words), the rebus (word abbreviations and pictograms such as emoticons), contemporary slang, and the (mis)use of English by the media have all at various times been noted and commented upon.
As the name says, this is a 'little book' of 83 pages and it consists of several dozen articles. These ask questions such as why English uses the Latin plural for 'millennia', but not the Italian plural for 'pizzas'. Is there such a thing as a 'perfect English accent'? What is a split infinitive, and does anyone care about it today? The tone of the book is light and easy to read, and since the articles are not arranged in any particular order, it is easy to pick up and read an article or two whenever the reader has a few minutes to fill.
What this book does not do is actually teach English. It does not assume that the reader has any specialized knowledge of the language (terms such as 'the gerund' are briefly explained for those who have never learned grammatical forms), nor does it assume that the reader's first language is English. However it does reflect on what type of English a language student should learn,and the implications of English becoming a global language.

Who is this book for? Anyone who has an interest in the English Language, whether as a teacher, student or simply an everyday user. All will find provocative ideas and interesting trivia in the various articles. Certainly it will help to improve your English, but the main intent is to describe and inform in a light, entertaining manner. Both the price and immediate availability over the internet make this the perfect book to download and read alongside a drink in your local coffee shop.

Verdict: Welcome to reading in 2012!
Assessment 9/10
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