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Separated by a Common Language #BriFri

By Joyweesemoll @joyweesemoll

British Isles Friday logoWelcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!

Last week, Heather began the first of several reports on her day trip to Cardiff and shared the YA steam punk fantasy, The Unnaturalists. Becky read three books set in the British Isles: The Prestige, Ross Poldark, and A Duty to the Dead. Sim brought us the marvelous news that a new Sherlock episode will air as a Christmas special — in this one Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sherlock and Martin Freeman’s John are donned in Victorian dress, complete with deerstalker hat.


George Bernard Shaw didn’t say “The United States and Great Britain are two countries separated by a common language.” According to WikiQuote, Oscar Wilde came closest to expressing that sentiment, but in different words. I can definitely imagine the humor from either Shaw or Wilde, though, so I can see why people misattribute that quote.

The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil
A cross between a text book and a coffee table book

BBC Culture published a piece yesterday about American English and British English that examined the history of how the two dialects emerged, converged, and diverged in strange and wonderful ways: Why Isn’t ‘American’ a Language? The article author appears to use Bill Bryson’s Made in America as his major resource. I’m pretty sure I read that in the 1990s when it came out, but since that’s before Goodreads, I have no way of knowing for sure. I definitely remember reading The Story of English by Robert McCrum, William Cran, and Robert MacNeil — a more scholarly approach made accessible with beautiful illustrations.

I have a couple of newer books on this topic on my TBR list right now. How to Speak Brit: The Quintessential Guide to the King’s English, Cockney Slang, and Other Flummoxing British Phrases by C.J. Moore came out last year and, this year, we got That’s Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us by Erin Moore. Apparently, I’m not the only person to be endlessly fascinated by the English language and its varying forms.

What have you read about English, the language?


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