That’s Not English by Erin Moore

That’s Not English by Erin MooreThat's Not English by Erin Moore
Published by Penguin on March 24th 2015
Genres: Essays & Travelogues, General, Language Arts & Disciplines, Popular Culture, Social Science, Travel
Pages: 240
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review consideration.
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An expat’s witty and insightful exploration of English and American cultural differences through the lens of language that will leave readers gobsmackedIn That’s Not English, the seemingly superficial differences between British and American English open the door to a deeper exploration of a historic and fascinating cultural divide. In each of the thirty chapters, Erin Moore explains a different word we use that says more about us than we think. For example, "Quite" exposes the tension between English reserve and American enthusiasm; in "Moreish," she addresses our snacking habits. In "Partner," she examines marriage equality; in "Pull," the theme is dating and sex; "Cheers" is about drinking; and "Knackered" covers how we raise our kids. The result is a cultural history in miniature and an expatriate’s survival guide. American by birth, Moore is a former book editor who specialized in spotting British books—including Eats, Shoots & Leaves—for the US market. She’s spent the last seven years living in England with her Anglo American husband and a small daughter with an English accent. That’s Not English is the perfect companion for modern Anglophiles and the ten million British and American travelers who visit one another’s countries each year.

This is such a fun, lighthearted book about the idiosyncrasies between American and British English! That’s Not English isn’t so much about etymology or accents as it is about the implications, cultural context, and attitudes behind and related to our word choices, using our shared but oh-so-different language as its inspiration.

Moore does tend to go off on tangents, but they’re interesting, thoughtful rabbit trails I was more than happy to follow. For example, “knackered” vs. “exhausted” prompted a look into the differences between American and English views and attitudes on pregnancy, childbirth, and health care. There was also an especially interesting look at the evolution of language among the children of expats.

Sometimes her observations feel more like generalizations; it’s like she speaks in hyperbole, but there is certainly plenty of truth within her statements. And I like that she doesn’t spend too much time on each word. For a nonfiction read about language and word usage, this was never once tedious. To be honest, it was downright funny much of the time; I laughed out loud often!

This is an entertaining read for language lovers and Anglophiles alike.


Giveaway: The kind people at Gotham Books have offered a copy of That’s Not English to one of my lucky readers (US only). Enter below for a chance to win; contest will run through Monday, March 30 in my time zone (Central).

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  • I just added this one to my Nonfiction November TBR list after reading Leah at BSV’s review. I think the cultural observations about American’s vs. Brits is what really appeals to me!

  • This one sounds like it’s up my alley! It would be interesting to learn more about the cultural implications/context of our word choices.

  • I really enjoyed this one, and I loved that she mainly used her chosen words as jumping-off points to discuss larger attitudes and ways of life.

  • Lilly

    That sounds super interesting!! I followed you on twitter under my business page ZnQFabric (I don’t have a personal twitter account and I rarely even tweet on my business one!)

  • Jennine G.

    Winning this would make my day! I’ve been hoping for good reviews of this – the title is very appealing.

  • Sounds great! It’s always so fun to read about different word choices and how they evolved and what they mean. Definitely want to try this!

  • Kelly TheWellReadRedhead

    I think I would love this! Every review I’ve seen sounds so interesting. Thanks for hosting the giveaway 🙂

  • No need to enter me in the giveaway, I have a copy, just wanted to say that I agree with your assessment. It’s lots of rabbit holes, but very funny and accessible. I’m enjoying it a lot.

  • Julie @ Smiling Shelves

    I can’t wait to get a hold of a copy of this. I’m an Anglophile and a linguistic geek, so this is right up my alley!

  • Thanks for hosting this giveaway. It looks like a super interesting book!

  • Rhonda Lomazow

    Sounds perfect for me.going on my wish list,

  • I loved this book, but you already know that 😀