By Albert Kim
Updated May 05, 1995 at 04:00 AM EDT

Aside from etymologists and those pathetic nitpickers who write all those letters to New York Times lingophile William Safire, it’s hard to imagine who would get excited over a scholarly study of the development of American English. But Made in America is so wittily informed, so richly anecdotal, and so consistently entertaining that it’s hard to imagine anybody who wouldn’t be enthralled by this dazzlingly clever work. The book is chockful of engaging trivia (E pluribus unum came from a salad recipe in a Virgil poem) but what really shines through is Bryson’s unabashed curiosity and the sheer delight he takes in sifting through the vagaries of the English language. And by exposing the connection between words and history, Bryson unveils a fascinating story of how today’s society grew and learned to express itself. A

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