If you were to master the twenty languages discussed in Babel, you could talk with three quarters of the world's population. But what makes these languages stand out amid the world's estimated 6,500 tongues?
Gaston Dorren delves deep into the linguistic oddities and extraordinary stories of these diverse lingua francas, tracing their origins and their sometimes bloody rise to greatness. He deciph..
Spoken by over 700 million jabbering individuals, the English language has travelled to all corners of the globe - unfortunately, some of it has got a bit muddled along the way.Lost in Translation: Misadventures in English Abroad affectionately demonstrates the very best - and worst - instances of genuine grammar-gargling from around the world, discovered by the author and his intrepid team of res..
Language is a wild animal: rough, ambiguous, inconsistent in countless ways. But that just makes it all the more tempting to tame it. Many have tried, from sticklers for supposedly correct grammar to inventors of supposedly perfect languages; from software engineers working on machine translation to governments that see language management as politics by another means. But when you enter the lair ..
The idea behind the alphabet - that language with all its wealth of meaning can be recorded with a few meaningless signs - is an extraordinary one. So extraordinary, in fact, that it has occurred only once in human history: in Egypt about 4000 years ago. Alpha Beta follows the emergence of the western alphabet as it evolved into its present form, contributing vital elements to our sense of ident..
The new 2nd edition of the Collins COBUILD Business Vocabulary in Practice equips learners with the language they need for the world of business in the 21st century. Suitable for intermediate to advanced learners of English, Collins COBUILD Business Vocabulary in Practice provides comprehensive coverage of today's business vocabulary in a clear, easy-to-use format. The text has been illustrated ..
In his groundbreaking new book Daniel Everett seeks answers to questions that have perplexed thinkers from Plato to Chomsky: when and how did language begin? What is it? And what is it for?
Daniel Everett confounds the conventional wisdom that language originated with Homo sapiens 150,000 years ago and that we have a 'language instinct'. Drawing on evidence from a wide range of fields, includ..
In this fascinating survey of everything from how sounds become speech to how names work, David Crystal answers every question you might ever have had about the nuts and bolts of language in his usual highly illuminating way. Along the way we find out about eyebrow flashes, whistling languages, how parents teach their children to speak, how politeness travels across languages and how the way we ..
Is That a Fish in Your Ear? by David Bellos asks: how do we really make ourselves understood to other people? This funny, wise and life-affirming language book shows how, from puns to poetry, news bulletins to the Bible, Asterix to Swedish films, translation is at the heart of everything we do - and makes us who we are.
Selected by The New York Times as one of the 100 Notable Books of 2011. '..
Like other tools, language was invented, can be reinvented or lost, and shows significant variation across cultures. It's as essential to survival as fire - and, like fire, is found in all human societies.
Language presents the bold and controversial idea that language is not an innate component of the brain, as has been famously argued by Chomsky and Pinker. Rather, it's a cultural tool whic..
A revelatory and exhilarating tour de force, Nicholas Ostler's The Last Lingua Franca: The Rise and Fall of World Languages explores the rise of a linguistic diversity we could never before have imagined. In the twenty-first century, can we really take the dominance of English for granted? In their time, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Sanskrit and Persian have each been world languages, sweeping the glob..
We adapt words from other languages, from slang, from developments in science, literature and art. Learn the advantages of having your own signature word; why the lifts in the House of Commons have posh accents; and discover the discreet art of the loopemism. Witty and utterly delightful, The Last Word will tease, tickle and tantalise lovers of all things lexical...
Welcome to Europe as you've never known it before, seen through the peculiarities of its languages and dialects.
Combining linguistics and cultural history, Gaston Dorren takes us on an intriguing tour of the continent, from Proto-Indo-European (the common ancestor of most European languages) to the rise and rise of English, via the complexities of Welsh plurals and Czech pronunciation. Along..
The English language that is spoken by one billion people around the world is a linguistic mongrel, its vocabulary a diverse mix resulting from centuries of borrowing from other tongues. From the Celtic languages of pre-Roman Britain to Norman French; from the Vikings' Old Scandinavian to Persian, Sanskrit, Algonquian, Cantonese and Hawaiian – amongst a host of others – we have enriched our mode..
Swearing, it turns out, is an incredibly useful part of our linguistic repertoire. Not only has some form of swearing existed since the earliest humans began to communicate, but it has been shown to reduce physical pain, help stroke victims recover their language, and encourage people to work together as a team.
Swearing Is Good For You is a spirited and hilarious defence of our most cherishe..
Language is mankind's greatest invention - except of course, that it was never invented.'
So begins Guy Deutscher's fascinating investigation into the evolution of language. No one believes that the Roman Senate sat down one day to design the complex system that is Latin grammar, and few believe, these days, in the literal truth of the story of the Tower of Babel. But then how did there come ..
"We think of English as a fortress to be defended, but a better analogy is to think of English as a child. We love and nurture it into being, and once it gains gross motor skills, it starts going exactly where we don't want it to go: it heads right for the goddamned electrical sockets."
With wit and irreverence, lexicographer Kory Stamper cracks open the obsessive world of dictionary writing,..