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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Schoolhouse Review Crew: King Alfred's English

Laurie White is a former homeschooling mom of 3, speaker, teacher, and writer.  Through her website theshorterword.com she hopes that the materials and articles will help you and your children consider history, language, and grammar in new ways and to appreciate how intriguing the lives lived before us really are.  I just had an opportunity to read and review King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do.  

  Have you ever given a lot of thought about the language we speak?  I know I haven't, unless of course it has been to explain to the frustrated child who is learning to read the English has a lot of strange spellings for words and not everything is spelled the way it sounds (which by the way I now have a much greater understanding of after reading the book!)  I never realized that the English language has such a fascinating history!  From the website, " King Alfred’s English provides a guided tour of forces and events, conquerors and writers that have shaped, simplified, matured and expanded English into what it is today—the first truly global language in history."

Recommended for ages 12 to adult, King Alfred's English is a unique combination of both English and history.  It is the only available book on the history of the English language that is written below a college grade level.  Through learning the history of English, you and your students will develop a new appreciation for language and the miracle that it truly is.  Throughout this 170 page softcover book many amazing and important facts will be learned.

The capstone of the book is the story of how we got the Bible in English and it’s influence upon our language.
  • What were the driving ideas behind the Reformation?
  • Are the New Testament documents really reliable and how do they compare to other ancient manuscripts?
  • Why was translating the Bible into English punishable by death?
  • …and what does all THAT have to do with the history of English?

Did you know?

  •  The English were NOT the British. In fact, they fought each other…a lot. And still today, if you call an English person British, he might very well correct you even though he knows you probably won’t understand.
  • You probably don’t pronounce the word “when” like your parents. When you say “when” and “win,” do these words sound the same? If you’re under 50, they probably do. If you’re older, you may still pronounce the sound of the “h” and the words sound slightly different. I still pronounce the “h,” do you?
  • The Brothers Grimm compiled German fairy tales, but they were also famous philologists (and what IS a philologist?)
  • There’s a law for the way languages change that backs up Intelligent Design.
  • For over 300 years the official language of the English court was…French! Seriously. But the English were always fighting the French. That’s true. Find out why.
  • There’s a reason we write “knight” but say “nite,” and you won’t believe how they used to pronounce it.
  • It was once punishable by death to translate even portions of the Bible into English! Yikes!
  • Recent scholarship has shown that at least 80% of the King James Bible is the translation work of just one man. Who was he?

You can take a look at the Table of Contents here.

Read the first chapter by clicking here.

On the website there is a TON of resources for students and teachers to supplement the book including chapter by chapter links images, articles, videos, and relevant literature excerpts.  There are also chapter worksheets and tests.  All of the supplemental materials are FREE!

You can purchase King Alfred's English from many book retailers.  Christianbook.com has it for $14.89 here which was the best price at the time of this writing. Amazon has it here for $16.95.  There is also a Kindle Version available for $5.95 from Amazon.

I found the information in King Alfred's English absolutely fascinating!  It really was even better than I thought it would be.  As I mentioned above I like many others I'm sure have never really given much thought to our language at all or where it came from.  I know we often say that it is one of the most difficult languages to learn and understand because of all of the strange spellings and immense vocabulary.  After reading the book I have a greater understanding and respect for our history and especially for those that fought and died to get the Bible translated and published in the English language.  The amount of free supplemental materials on the website to go along with the book is amazing.  By using the supplemental material along with the book you can award 1/2 credit high school history course or 1/4 credit combined history and 1/4 credit English.

To see what other crew mates had to say click here.

Disclaimer: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a complimentary  e book copy of King Alfred's English for the purpose of writing a fair and honest review.  I received no other compensation.  

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