Book Review: Highly Irregular by Arika Okrent


Author: Arika Okrent
Title: Highly Irregular: Why Tough, Through, and Dough Don’t Rhyme―And Other Oddities of the English Language
Publication Info: Oxford University Press (2021)

Summary/Review: I always love a good book about why English seems to make no sense.  Okrent breaks down English’s oddities into conflicts of words usage changing among the different languages of various invaders of Britain, the biggest being the Norman invasion which lead to centuries of the elite speaking French while the commoners spoke English.  The introduction of the printing press lead to attempts of standardization for words that previously had no standard spelling, but localized so that they didn’t always end up logically applied.  Then in the 19th century, classically trained scholars tried to apply the standards of Greek and Latin to the unruly English language, causing more problems in the long run.  Event today English is evolving and changing in weird ways while still oddly being a successful means of communication among people who use the language.  The book is broken up into short chapters so it can be read all at once or broken up to be read at one’s leisure.

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Rating: ***1/2