I’ve read a little about the translation of our Bible into English, some about the different translations, and quite a bit about how our English language was developed and morphed into the complex language it is today.
But I’ve never read anything quite like King Alfred’s English A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do by Laurie J. White.
Laurie wrote this book to target Jr. High and High Schoolers after she took a college course on History of the English Language for her English degree. As she was taking the course she began to really understand and appreciate not only the English language, but history itself. This led her to wonder why there was nothing like this to help history make sense at a Jr. High and High School level. But instead of just wondering, she decided to make a difference and share her inspiration with the rest of us. Lucky us! This book is really something every Jr. High or High School student should add to their reading list before going off to college for a greater understanding of our language and history. It’s a jewel!
As a member of the Schoolhouse Crew, I downloaded this ebook to read on my Kindle Fire.
This book retails for $16.95. You can purchase this little jewel from Amazon, CBD (the cheapest place at the time of this blog post: $14.89) , Rainbow Resource ($14.95), or get it for your Kindle ($5.95).
Here is the link to the student resource page, and teacher’s page with worksheets and tests. These are big helps if you want to use this as high school credit or just do a more thorough study with your kids, or even for yourself!
I read through this book myself for the purposes of this review. I can’t wait to use this as a personal study this year for my oldest two girls and I. I will probably use the worksheets and/or tests as oral discussion questions for part of it. I think we will really enjoy this as it is unique and engaging and we all love language arts, etymology, history of language and the Bible, etc. I especially think they will like it after all of their Latin studies as it really sums up so much history of language, just as we have found in Latin studies. I found myself laughing, gasping, ooing and awing through much of this book. I can’t wait to share more of it with my girls!
I highly recommend this for Junior High, High School and adults to add a wonderful, different flavor to your studies.
The book has so many little cool facts and explanations of things that really make history make sense. Some of these things I’ve always wondered about, some I’ve never thought about, and some things that I had just plain wrong! The very first thing I was hooked by was the fact that using an X in Xmas does NOT mean you are xing out Christ’s name as I was taught and have continued to get on my soapbox about through the years when I see it. I learned from this book that the first two letters of the word Christ in Greek are chi (x) and roe (P) and it was common to use the Chi-Rho symbol, as did Constantine on army uniforms, throughout history as a religious symbol for Christ. Thus, the X in Xmas is actually the traditional Greek initial Chi to stand for the first letter in Christ in Greek! (I guess old habits die hard though, I will still go with the “longhand” Christmas vs. Xmas I imagine!!)
There were so many more dates and famous names and quotes and places and events in here that were just really cool. I LOVED the grammar references, old language examples, and comparisons of how words changed throughout different languages.
In one place the book compares the Lord’s Prayer in Old English and Modern English. We learned the history of King Alfred, and how he worked to have the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle written in English, not Latin. We continued learning about the changes of the English language with the times and influence of other growing and changing languages. We are then introduced to John Wycliffe and the First English Bible where we revisit the Lord’s Prayer with Middle English. And next comes…the printing press! And moving on to the battle for the English printed Bible. All very interesting, leading right into the many different translations.
And what would a study of language be without…Shakespeare? dictionaries? grammar?
I’d suggest you read it for yourself, and share it with your kids! It’s really a great read!
Check out my Crew Mates’ adventures with King Alfred’s English over at the Crew Blog!
* Disclaimer~I downloaded this book for review purposes as a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew. No other compensation was received and opinions are my own.