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Sussex linguist's 'rollicking read' recognised as one of The Economist's books of the year

A University of Sussex linguist has had her book included in The Economist’s Books of the Year list for 2018.

Professor Lynne Murphy’s book The Prodigal Tongue was one of six books selected as the best in the ‘culture’ genre. 

Describing the book as "a funny and rollicking read", the review praises it for the inclusion of facts and analysis on the relative merits of American and British English rather than nationalistic prejudice.

The list, which is online now and will publish in print on 1 December, recognises the best books across various categories including history, fiction, business and economics, biography and memoir, culture and science and technology.

Professor of Linguistics, Lynne Murphy said: “I’m absolutely thrilled that my work has been recognised in this way. This was the first book I’ve written for a general audience, and I do think it is very, very important for academics to be taking their ideas and their research outside the academy.

“Linguistics is a field that few have heard of, but language is a thing that everyone has opinions on. I wrote this book to demonstrate that opinions aren’t good enough.

“We need facts and good reasoning in order to counteract our tendencies to discriminate on linguistic bases. I’m over the moon that the editors at The Economist think I’ve done that well.”

The Prodigal Tongue was published in the UK in March 2018 by Oneworld and has since been reviewed favourably by The New York Times, The Financial Times, Times Literary Supplement, The Telegraph, The New Statesman and The New Yorker among others.

Professor Murphy also writes an award-winning blog, ‘Separated by a Common Language’ in which she details observations on British and American English through particular words.

Read the full list in The Economist.



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By: Stephanie Allen
Last updated: Monday, 3 December 2018