King Alfred's English Review



King Alfred's English: A History of the Language We Speak and Why We Should Be Glad We Do was written by Laurie J. White and is available at in softcover (170 pages) for $16.95 and on Kindle for $5.95. 

Recommended for ages 12 through adult, King Alfred's English is the only book for students below the college level that covers the history of our English language. While I have my own conflicting opinion on the chapters involving the translation of our King James Version of the Bible, I think that the preceding chapters are both entertaining and educational. In those chapters, Laurie walks us through the four "key invasions" that both simplified and expanded out language into the English we speak today. We read about the importance of the printing press in the distribution of Bibles to the common people and just how much this invention had to do with the uniform spelling of words. 

I have never thought about this before (and am 99.9% sure I never would have had I not read this book), but I discovered that I pronounce the words "when" and "where"  with the "h" sound but my children say them as "win" and "wear".  Apparently, this has to do with the language law of "Living languages always simplify over time." I never knew that "wh" used to be "hw" or that our "qu" was once "cw".  Another interesting fact is why we pronounce "knight" as "nite" and I must say that I am sure glad THAT changed because I would never have been able to pronounce it in it's original way!

I love the illustrations throughout as well as the excerpts from "The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle". I think they both add that "something special" to the book.

Free supplemental materials for students and teachers are available on the site. These include an impressive list of chapter-by-chapter links to online images, articles, videos, and relevant literature excerpts for students and chapter worksheets and tests for teachers or parents in pdf form which can be printed out and given to the students. 

I appreciate the fact that the author included the following paragraph on the "student" page: (Taken from the website, links removed.)

"Movie Recommendations  These recommendations are also included below in “Illuminations,” but you can use this link to view them in one consolidated list. ONE CAUTION about the recommended movies: I have not rated these movies and you must check these out yourself to see if you feel they are suitable for your student. Some are G or PG-rated, but there are a few R-rated movies that you may feel are completely unsuitable. So please watch out! Here are 2 recommended sites for checking out content on films—Focus on the Family’s Plugged In or And one last thing about movies: If you can only watch one movie…watch LUTHER."

Bottom line? I thoroughly enjoyed reading PARTS of this book. I have found a new interest and would like to further study the history of our language. 

For the most part, minus my issues with the Tyndale and Shakespear connection, I found the book to be most interesting and love the supplemental material provided! It is very well written, smooth & flowing, and an easy read for sure. You can read the first chapter and see for yourself!

King Alfred's English is on Facebook!