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 deciphers their bewildering array of scripts, presents the gems and gaps in their vocabularies and charts ..
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 researchers. It includes everything from hilarious hotel signs to baffling advertisements, such as the ..
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 of a wild beast, you can be lucky to escape with your wits.
Join Lane Greene on a journey of discov..
With a language disappearing every two weeks and neologisms springing up almost daily, an understanding of the origins and currency of language has never seemed more relevant. In this charming volume, a narrative history written explicitly for a young audience, expert linguist David Crystal proves why the story of language deserves retelling.From the first words of an infant to the peculiar modern dialect of text messaging, A Little Book of Language ranges widely, revealing language's myriad int..
'A delightfully quirky sturdy . . . [Flanders] is a meticulour historian with a taste for the offbeat; the story of the alphabet suits her well . . . Fascinating.' Sunday Times
Once we've learned it as children, few of us think much of the alphabet and its familiar sing-song order. And yet the order of the alphabet continues to play a major role in our adult lives. From school registers to electoral rolls, from dictionaries and encyclopaedias to library shelves, our lives have been ordered from..
First ever critical study of Tolkien’s little-known essay, which reveals how language invention shaped the creation of Middle-earth and beyond, to George R R Martin’s Game of Thrones.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s linguistic invention was a fundamental part of his artistic output, to the extent that later on in life he attributed the existence of his mythology to the desire to give his languages a home and peoples to speak them. As Tolkien puts it in ‘A Secret Vice’, ‘the making of language and mythology ar..
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 identity along the way.
The Israelites used it to define their God, the Greeks to capture their myths, t..
THE ACCLAIMED NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER.Have you ever puzzled over how to punctuate a text message? Wondered where memes came from? Fret no more: Because Internet is the perfect book for understanding how the internet is changing the English language, why that's a good thing, and what our online interactions reveal about who we are.'McCulloch is such a disarming writer - lucid, friendly, unequivocally excited about her subject - that I began to marvel at the flexibility of the online language sh..
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 with thousands of examples of real English from the Bank of English, to help students write, speak, an..
A new cover look for the 5th anniversary of Mark Forsyth's brilliant Sunday Times Number One bestseller.
What is the actual connection between disgruntled and gruntled? What links church organs to organised crime, California to the Caliphate, or brackets to codpieces?
The Etymologicon is all about the strange connections between words. It's an occasionally ribald, frequently witty and unerringly erudite guided tour of the secret labyrinth that lurks beneath the English language, taking in monk..
A compelling argument about the importance of using more than one language in today's world.
In a world that has English as its global language and rapidly advancing translation technology, it's easy to assume that the need to use more than one language will diminish - but Marek Kohn argues that plural language use is more important than ever. In a divided world, it helps us to understand ourselves and others better, to live together better, and to make the most of our various cultures. Kohn, w..
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, including linguistics, archaeology, biology, anthropology and neuroscience, he shows that our ancient ancest..
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 way we learn why Esperanto will never catch on, how the language of William the Conqueror lives o..
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 modern language with such words as tulip, slogan, doolally, avocado, moccasin, ketchup and ukulele.
‘Fascinating… I loved this book; I really did’ David Crystal, Spectator
A biography of a much misunderstood punctuation mark and a call to arms in favour of clear expression and against stifling grammar rules.
Cecelia Watson used to be obsessive about grammar rules. But then she began teaching. And that was when she realized that strict rules aren’t always the best way of teaching people how to make words say what they want them to; that they are even, sometimes, best ignored.
'Punctuation is not only an important part of our language code; an advanced system of punctuation has been a driving force in our entire Western Civilisation. Nothing less.'
With the invention of printing, reading books moved from being an act only performed by priests and aristocrats into an individual, even private, activity. This change helped spark the Renaissance, the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution - in which punctuation played a crucial role. As long as text..
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 cherished dirty words, backed by historical case studies and cutting-edge research. From chimpanzees creating ..
"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, from the agonizing decisions about what to define and how to do it to the knotty questions of ever-ch..