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The fascination is in his detail, the sheer case-by-case weirdness of languages'". For the latest books, recommendations, offers and more. By signing up, I confirm that I'm over View all newsletter.

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The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language

I wanted to say that his writing as as clear as Crystal, for my money Cambridge language expert David Crystal is perhaps the most lucid writer on language around, but the joy and enthusiasm that McWhorter brings to the subject is quite unmatched. Penultimately satisfying was his sense of humor, which he brandishes via superfun and apropos pop-culture references which mostly did not go over my head. Most satisfying of all was his origin story, which allows the reader to crystally understand the writer's passion, and appreciate his works in a most emphatic manner.


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The historical-comparative method allows Whorter to bring example after example of the richness, variability and robustness of language. Home Groups Talk Zeitgeist. I Agree This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and if not signed in for advertising. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.

the power of babel natural history of language

Members Reviews Popularity Average rating Mentions 1, 29 12, 3. How did they all develop? What happened to the first language? In this irreverent romp through territory too often claimed by stodgy grammarians, McWhorter ranges across linguistic theory, geography, history, and pop culture to tell the fascinating story of how thousands of very different languages have evolved from a single, original source in a natural process similar to biological evolution.

While laying out how languages mix and mutate over time, he reminds us of the variety within the species that speaks them, and argues that, contrary to popularperception, language is not immutable and hidebound, but a living, dynamic entity that adapts itself to an ever-changing human environment.

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Full of humor and imaginative insight, The Power of Babel draws its examples from languages around the world, including pidgins, creoles, patois and nonstandard dialects. McWhorter also discusses current theories on what the first language might have been like, why dialects should not be considered "bad speech" and why most of today's languages will be extinct in years. The first book written for the layperson about the natural history of language, Power of Babel is a dazzling tour de force that will leave readers anything but speechless.

Recently added by charlyk , private library, elegacy , GCMarshallJr. Great Books About Language 5. No current Talk conversations about this book. If you are a linguistics grad student, you are absolutely going to love this book. Sandydog1 May 18, In this wonderful book about how languages develop John McWhorter does a excellent job of showing the complexity and diversity of the forms of human verbal communication.

Pezski Jun 8, Library copy.


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Kaethe Oct 16, Reading this mind-blower created four significant changes in my brain: 1 It changed my approach to learning languages, as I was previously stuck trying to learn them through the rules of my own. A fascinating survey of the myriad ways humans get to communicate with each other, not as a catalog of odd behaviors but as the evidence for a rather radical thesis: there are no dialects, all are languages or the converse: there are no languages, all are dialects, perhaps.

I don't know if professional linguists will accept the thesis or its argument, but to me was an extremely lucid and enlightneing book. See the newest novels, discuss with other book lovers, buy romance books online. Visit Harlequin. Get a free e-book from Book perk.

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From there you can navigate to the title you are interested in. Interest-specific online venues will often provide a book buying opportunity. Click here for a list of interest-specific sites grouped by category. If you are located outside the U. There are approximately six thousand languages on Earth today, each a descendant of the tongue first spoken by Homo sapiens some , years ago. While laying out how languages mix and mutate over time, linguistics professor John McWhorter reminds us of the variety within the species that speaks them, and argues that, contrary to popular perception, language is not immutable and hidebound, but a living, dynamic entity that adapts itself to an ever-changing human environment.

Full of humor and imaginative insight, The Power of Babel draws its illustrative examples from languages around the world, including pidgins, Creoles, and nonstandard dialects.

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