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King Alfred’s English Book {Schoolhouse Crew Review}

August 8, 2012

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“King Alfred’s English:  A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do”.  (What a mouthful!)  How intriguing!  At 170 pages, the basis of the book is how the Bible was translated into English and how this influenced the English language.  Interested?  It’s amazing.  Really.  Here’s the table of contents.

I honestly had never thought of the history of my language.  I always assumed my speaking came from a long line of Englishmen until I started trying to explain to my kids why we have such a strange language and why exactly it is strange.  From where did it all come?  Laurie White knows.

A homeschooling mom herself, Laurie White has three grown children now.  Perhaps it was in raising her own children that she learned how to talk to people so they could understand, but regardless, she has mastered the concept!  I love the friendly way she writes/speaks through this book right to you.  I feel like I’m being told a story from a good friend.  Here’s an example…

If only history were neater and less confusing… but, ah, then it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. You remember how King Aethelbert became a Christian when Augustine shared the gospel with him? That’s when Christianity came to England… sort of, mostly. You see, there was just a little bit of Christianity already in England that actually got there a wee bit ahead of Augustine.

Laurie J. White. King Alfred’s English (Kindle Locations 762-765). Booksurge.

Doesn’t that make you want to read more?  She is so casual and yet full of so much useful information!

Laurie also does a wonderful job of explaining where different sounds came from that affect our English language today.  She uses her knowledge of historical facts of battles and wars and take-overs to address the nuances of the language we love.  A neat little tidbit, we learn in chapter 7 that there are around 80 sounds that humans can make to communicate but English only uses about half of these.

Throughout the book, she conveys interesting information and then gives examples to explain them better.  For example, when discussing the simplicity of scripture and how that matters to us today, she compared two phrases.  One that is found in the Bible (Genesis 1) and illustrates the simple word choices made by Tyndale the translator.

“Then God said: Let there be light and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good.”

And a second one that Tyndale did not say but could have…

“Let there be illumination.  And God perceived that the illumination was beneficial.”

This example clearly sums up exactly what Laurie was saying about how the translator, Tyndale, wrote to be easily understood.  It was an excellent verbal illustration.  It is examples like these throughout the book that lend her writing to be more easily understood.  I appreciated that since I’m not an English nor an historic scholar myself.

Likes:

  • You don’t have to know your history to understand this book.  Even though it’s about history and the English language, the author does a wonderful job of including everyone regardless if they are history buffs or not.
  • Easy to read.  So easy it’s enjoyable!
  • Written from a Christian world-view.  So refreshing to hear history told through the eyes of a Christian.

I read this book to myself (which was really nice), but plan to read it to the children in a few years.  Probably when my daughter starts high school would be a good time for her to read it.  The website has teacher materials including chapter worksheets and tests.  (hmmmm…I wonder how I’d do…)  There are also suggested movies and it explains how to get high school history and/or English credits there, too.  Be sure to check out TheShorterWord.com for tons more information.

I highly suggest “King Alfred’s English” to anyone wanting to learn more about the history of the Bible or the history of the English language in a relaxed environment. Laurie has the gift of story telling and it shows through in her writing.  This excellent read is recommended for age 12 and up and is available for $16.95 retail (I found it for $14.89 new at ChristianBook.com) or for $5.95 on Kindle.  If you’d like to purchase the paperback version, the author is permitting me to give a 50% discount code to the first five readers who ask for it.  

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DISCLAIMER: As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a complimentary copy of King Alfred’s English for the purpose of completing this review. All the opinions expressed here are my own and are offered honestly in exchange for the product. The receipt of the product in no way influenced my honest assessment.
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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 8, 2012 6:21 pm

    I so totally enjoyed reading this book – Great Review!

    • givingglory permalink*
      August 10, 2012 10:57 pm

      Thanks! It was a great read!

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