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Mother Tongue: The surprising history of women's words -'A gem of a book' (Kate Mosse)

Jenni Nuttall

7 Reviews

Rated 0

Language: history & general works, linguistics, Historical & comparative linguistics, History, Early modern history: c 1450/1500 to c 1700, Feminism & feminist theory

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Spinster. Cougar. Carer. Matron. Wife.

A rich, provocative and entertaining history of women's words - of the language we have, and haven't, had to share our lives.

'A gem of a book' KATE MOSSE

'A fascinating look at how we talk about women' WASHINGTON POST

'Wonderful' DAILY TELEGRAPH

From the dawn of Old English to the present day, Dr Jenni Nuttall guides readers through the evolution of words we have used to describe women and the experiences they might share including menstruation, sexuality, the consequences of male violence, childbirth, paid and unpaid work. Along the way, she argues that as women have made slow progress towards equality, we've lost some of the most eloquent parts of our vocabulary for our lives.

Inspired by Nuttall's deep knowledge of the English language as well as conversations with her teenage daughter, this is a book for anyone who loves language, and for feminists who want to look to the past in order to move forward.

'This superb book teems with historical marvels and their 21st century resonances' REBECCA WRAGG SYKES, author of Kindred

'A great book on the history of women's words in the English language' NEW EUROPEAN
'Even longtime word enthusiasts will find plenty of new trivia' NEW YORKER

'A must-have for any lover of language, history or women' BUZZ MAGAZINE

'Entertaining' SPECTATOR
'Edifying and enlivening' BOSTON GLOBE

'There is a nugget of joy and wisdom on every single page' VICTORIA WHITWORTH, historian and author of Daughter of the Wolf

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Praise for Mother Tongue: The surprising history of women's words -'A gem of a book' (Kate Mosse)

  • From the womb-wicket to the child-mighty, and roaring maidens to cunning crones, MOTHER TONGUE encompasses a millennium of enthralling English parlance. Incisively scholarly, affectionately humorous (and sometimes quietly furious), Nuttall sifts the archives of centuries and listens to modern echoes, as lost voices emerge, showing how women have long spoken, and been spoken of. Vivid, philosophical, absorbing and urgent, this superb book teems with historical marvels and their 21st century resonances - Rebecca Wragg Sykes, author of KINDRED

  • What a revelatory delight of a book. It is richly scholarly, wry and funny, healthily grounded in women's bodily experiences - they don't change but attitudes towards them do, and we are clearly very mistaken if we think we are getting it right and previous generations were unenlightened. There is a nugget of joy and wisdom on every single page - Victoria Whitworth

  • Fascinating, intriguing, witty, a gem of a book - Kate Mosse

  • A fresh, informative perspective on women's lives through the centuries - Kirkus

  • An eye-opening survey of the etymology of words used to identify women's body parts, the kind of work they performed, and the violence they suffered from men in Anglo-Saxon English from the 400s to the 1800s (with brief forays into more recent times). . . . This is required reading for logophiles, feminists, and history buffs - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • Full of interesting observations ... Entertaining - Philip Hensher, Spectator

  • Jenni Nuttall's Mother Tongue will easily be one of the wittiest and most insightful books of the year - Buzz Magazine

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Jenni Nuttall

Dr Jenni Nuttall is an academic who has been teaching and researching medieval literature at the University of Oxford for the last twenty years, and who has thus had a lot of practice at making old words interesting. She has a DPhil from Oxford and completed the University of East Anglia's MA in Creative Writing. She is the author of a readers' guide to Geoffrey Chaucer's Troilus and Criseyde with Cambridge University Press. Mother Tongue is her first book for the general reader.

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