Monday 9 December 2013

Book Review: Globish by Robert McCrum

Title: Globish
Author: Robert McCrum
Publisher: Penguin
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 310
Format: Paperback
Genre: Non-Fiction
Source: Bought Copy
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A small island in the North Atlantic, colonized by Rome, then pillaged for hundreds of years by marauding neighbours, becomes the dominant world power in the nineteenth century. As its power spreads, its language inevitably follows. Then, across the Atlantic, a colony of that tiny island grows into the military and cultural colossus of the twentieth century. These centuries of empire-building and war, international trade and industrial ingenuity will bring to the world great works of literature and extraordinary movies, cricket pitches and episodes of Dallas, the printing press and the internet.

But then what? As Robert McCrum demonstrates in his hugely enjoyable and provocative new book, what happens next is quite unprecedented. While the global dominance of Anglo-American power appears to be on the wane, the English language has acquired an astonishing new life of its own. With a supra-national momentum, it is now able to zoom across time and space at previously unimaginable speeds. In McCrum's analysis, the cultural revolution of our times is the emergence of English, a global phenomenon as never before, to become the world's language. In the twenty-first century, writes the author, 'English + Microsoft = Globish'.
(Goodreads Synopsis)

Globish was at times an interesting read, but I also wondered if the author really knew what direction he wanted to take the book in. At some points, he considered Globish i.e. English as a world-wide language, but other times, he wandered off into a discussion on the history of English which has been done before (and better) my other authors in other books. Also, there were a few times I sat up and wondered about McCrum's fact-checking as I believe he made some incorrect statements and some sweeping assumptions.

Overall, this wasn't a bad read, but I had been expecting more and closed the last page feeling a little disappointed and flat. A clearer aim would have helped this book enormously.

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