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An extraordinarily informative and entertaining book that supports and
details many of Steve Runge's points is Bill Bryson's MOTHER TONGUE: THE
ENGLISH LANGUAGE (1990). Last March, during an eight-hour drive to a skiing
trip in Michigan, I read aloud from the book to the others in the car. It
was a great time. I personally had two laughing fits, both lasting over a
minute. Below is a lesser sample, but one that touches on one of Steve's
points:

"English grammer is so complex and confusing for the very simple reason
that its rules and terminology are based on Latin -- a language with which
it has precious little in common. In Latin, to take one example, it is not
possible to split an infinitive. So in Enlgish, the early authorities
decided, it should not be possible to split an infinitive either. But there
is no reason why we shouldn't, any more than we should forsake instant
coffee and air travel because they weren't available to the Romans."

Bill Bryson is also the author of A WALK IN THE WOODS, a present bestseller
about the Appalachian Trail, and NOTES FROM A SMALL ISLAND, a fantastic
book for all Anglophiles.


Paul Ellis, Director                                    [log in to unmask]
Learning Assistance Program - BP 230                    TEL 606.572.5611
Northern Kentucky University                    FAX 606.572.5566
Highland Heights, KY 41099