The Prodigal Tongue

Lynne Murphy’s new book, recently released (my own copy is to arrive today). I’m getting the red edition rather than the blue; both are for sale in both the US and the UK, but they’re not quite the same, as you’ll see from looking at their subtitles:

(#1) The red edition

(#2) The blue edition

From the Penguin Random House site:

An American linguist teaching in England explores the sibling rivalry between British and American English

“English accents are the sexiest.”
“Americans have ruined the English language.” 

Such claims about the English language are often repeated but rarely examined. Professor Lynne Murphy is on the linguistic front line. In The Prodigal Tongue she explores the fiction and reality of the special relationship between British and American English. By examining the causes and symptoms of American Verbal Inferiority Complex and its flipside, British Verbal Superiority Complex, Murphy unravels the prejudices, stereotypes and insecurities that shape our attitudes to our own language.

With great humo(u)r and new insights, Lynne Murphy looks at the social, political and linguistic forces that have driven American and British English in different directions: how Americans got from centre to center, why British accents are growing away from American ones, and what different things we mean when we say estate, frown, or middle class. Is anyone winning this war of the words? Will Yanks and Brits ever really understand each other?

And about Lynne:

Lynne Murphy is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Sussex. Born and raised in New York State, she studied Linguistics at the Universities of Massachusetts [B.A. in linguistics and philosophy from U.Mass. Amherst] and Illinois [A.M. and Ph.D. in linguistics, Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign], before starting her academic career in South Africa [Witwatersrand] and Texas [Baylor]. Since 2000, she has lived in Brighton, England, where she has acquired an English husband, an English daughter, and an alter ego: Lynneguist, author of the award-winning blog Separated by a Common Language.

Other books:

Semantic Relations and the Lexicon: Antonymy, Synonymy and other Paradigms (Cambridge, 2003)

Lexical Meaning (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics) (2010)

Jones, Murphy, Paradis, and Wilner, Antonyms in English: Construals, Constructions, and Canonicity (Cambridge, 2012)

Everything she writes is sharp, perceptive, and funny. That includes the textbook.

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