The Prodigal Tongue

Pages: 368
Subject: Literature, Anthropology
Imprint: Oneworld

The Prodigal Tongue

The Love–Hate Relationship Between British and American English

Lynne Murphy

A laugh-out-loud dissection of the linguistic myths surrounding British and American English from the author of the blog SEPARATED BY A COMMON LANGUAGE
9781786072696 (29 Mar 2018)
RRP £16.99

The Book

Do you eat mashed potato or mashed potatoes? Are you frowning with your eyebrows or your mouth? Did you need to google mugwump when Boris Johnson laid into Jeremy Corbyn?

British and American English may seem similar, but their differences abound. Contentious cultural wars are waged daily, on both sides of the Atlantic. As an American linguist based in Britain, Lynne Murphy brings a wry fish-out-of-water wit and a keen eye to this great divide. Some Americans suffer from a verbal inferiority complex, while on this side of the pond Brits are gripped by a delusional paranoia that their English is under attack. Murphy puts the mythologies of British and American English to the test, sharing surprising revelations about how our language really works.

Additional Information

Subject Literature, Anthropology
Pages 368
Imprint Oneworld


About the Author

Lynne Murphy is a professor in linguistics at the University of Sussex. She blogs at and tweets @lynneguist. A dual British/American citizen, she lives in Brighton.