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  • Published: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407008431
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

The Prodigal Tongue

Dispatches from the Future of English

From Ice Cube to You Tube via 'Singlish' and Bouncebackability - Mark Abley travels the globe to report on the dynamic new forces shaping the future of the English language

Mark Abley takes the reader on a world-wide trip like no other - from Singapore to Japan, Oxford to Los Angeles, through the web and even back in time. As much a travel book as a linguistic study, this book goes beyond grammar and vocabulary; more importantly, this book is about the people of the world.

On his travels Abley encounters bloggers, translators, novelists, therapists, dictionary makers, hip-hop performers and web-savvy teenagers. He talks to a married couple who were passionately corresponding online before they met in 'meatspace.' And he listens to teenagers, puzzling out the words they coin in chat rooms and virtual worlds.

Lively, evocative, passionate and hilarious, this is a book for everyone who cherishes the words we use.

  • Published: 1 September 2010
  • ISBN: 9781407008431
  • Imprint: Cornerstone Digital
  • Format: EBook
  • Pages: 272

About the author

Mark Abley

Mark Abley, a winner of Canada's National Newspaper Award, is the author of nine critically-acclaimed books, ranging from children's fiction to poetry, via journalistic non-fiction. He has written for the TLS, the Toronto Globe and Mail and the Montreal Gazette, amongst other publications. Winning a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005 inspired his 2008 book The Prodigal Tongue: Dispatches from the Future of English. He lives in Montréal and speaks English, French, and a little Welsh.

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Praise for The Prodigal Tongue

[A] fascinating account of developing English.

The Times

[A] witty and well-documented treatise on the ways -- some of them alarming -- in which the English language is changing

Winnipeg Free Press

As a poet, journalist, editor, intrepid traveller, scholar and endlessly curious spirit, Abley brings an appropriately eclectic perspective to the subject. ... Writing as an inquisitive, bemused Everyman, Abley leads us on a lively intellectual journey through uncharted territory, his comfort in the zone of ambiguity making him the ideal travel guide

The Gazette

Attuned to pop culture as well as to scholarship, Abley proves a deft social anthropologist

The Daily Telegraph

In The Prodigal Tongue, Mark Abley investigates the deep flux in contemporary English... Attuned to pop culture as well as to scholarship...it stylishly covers a large amount of ground, from Lee Kuan Yew to YouTube, via Spike Lee and Ice Cube... Joyous - a paean to the dynamic energies of English.


The Prodigal Tongue takes the reader on an informative and frequently entertaining journey.

Edmonton Journal

Well written . . . provocative

The New York Times

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