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Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue Author John McWhorter
ISBN-10 9781592404940
Release 2009-10-01
Pages 230
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A survey of the English language's usage mysteries considers the ways in which English developed and how it may reflect cultural values, in a reference that covers such topics as Celtic and Welsh influences, the origins of specific syntax patterns, and the role of language in forming early Britain. 25,000 first printing.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue Author John H. McWhorter
ISBN-10 1592403956
Release 2008
Pages 230
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Why do we say "I am reading a catalog" instead of "I read a catalog"? Why do we say "do" at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, author McWhorter distills hundreds of years of lore i

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue Author John McWhorter
ISBN-10 1440634041
Release 2008-10-30
Pages 256
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A survey of the quirks and quandaries of the English language, focusing on our strange and wonderful grammar Why do we say “I am reading a catalog” instead of “I read a catalog”? Why do we say “do” at all? Is the way we speak a reflection of our cultural values? Delving into these provocative topics and more, Our Magnificent Bastard Language distills hundreds of years of fascinating lore into one lively history. Covering such turning points as the little-known Celtic and Welsh influences on English, the impact of the Viking raids and the Norman Conquest, and the Germanic invasions that started it all during the fifth century ad, John McWhorter narrates this colorful evolution with vigor. Drawing on revolutionary genetic and linguistic research as well as a cache of remarkable trivia about the origins of English words and syntax patterns, Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue ultimately demonstrates the arbitrary, maddening nature of English— and its ironic simplicity due to its role as a streamlined lingua franca during the early formation of Britain. This is the book that language aficionados worldwide have been waiting for (and no, it’s not a sin to end a sentence with a preposition).

Words on the Move

Words on the Move Author John McWhorter
ISBN-10 9781627794732
Release 2016-09-06
Pages 288
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A bestselling linguist takes us on a lively tour of how the English language is evolving before our eyes -- and why we should embrace this transformation and not fight it Language is always changing -- but we tend not to like it. We understand that new words must be created for new things, but the way English is spoken today rubs many of us the wrong way. Whether it’s the use of literally to mean “figuratively” rather than “by the letter,” or the way young people use LOL and like, or business jargon like What’s the ask? -- it often seems as if the language is deteriorating before our eyes. But the truth is different and a lot less scary, as John McWhorter shows in this delightful and eye-opening exploration of how English has always been in motion and continues to evolve today. Drawing examples from everyday life and employing a generous helping of humor, he shows that these shifts are a natural process common to all languages, and that we should embrace and appreciate these changes, not condemn them. Words on the Move opens our eyes to the surprising backstories to the words and expressions we use every day. Did you know that silly once meant “blessed”? Or that ought was the original past tense of owe? Or that the suffix -ly in adverbs is actually a remnant of the word like? And have you ever wondered why some people from New Orleans sound as if they come from Brooklyn? McWhorter encourages us to marvel at the dynamism and resilience of the English language, and his book offers a lively journey through which we discover that words are ever on the move and our lives are all the richer for it.

What Language Is

What Language Is Author John McWhorter
ISBN-10 9781101644454
Release 2013-02-12
Pages 240
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New York Times bestselling author and renowned linguist, John McWhorter, explores the complicated and fascinating world of languages. From Standard English to Black English; obscure tongues only spoken by a few thousand people in the world to the big ones like Mandarin - What Language Is celebrates the history and curiosities of languages around the world and smashes our assumptions about "correct" grammar. An eye-opening tour for all language lovers, What Language Is offers a fascinating new perspective on the way humans communicate. From vanishing languages spoken by a few hundred people to major tongues like Chinese, with copious revelations about the hodgepodge nature of English, John McWhorter shows readers how to see and hear languages as a linguist does. Packed with Big Ideas about language alongside wonderful trivia, What Language Is explains how languages across the globe (the Queen's English and Surinam creoles alike) originate, evolve, multiply, and divide. Raising provocative questions about what qualifies as a language (so-called slang does have structured grammar), McWhorter also takes readers on a marvelous journey through time and place-from Persian to the languages of Sri Lanka- to deliver a feast of facts about the wonders of human linguistic expression.

Talking Back Talking Black

Talking Back  Talking Black Author John McWhorter
ISBN-10 1942658206
Release 2017-01-10
Pages 192
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An authoritative, impassioned celebration of Black English, how it works, and why it matters

The Story of English

The Story of English Author Robert McCrum
ISBN-10 0571275087
Release 2011
Pages 468
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From the author of Globish, a new edition of the acclaimed history of the English language.

The Power of Babel

The Power of Babel Author John McWhorter
ISBN-10 9780060520854
Release 2003-01-07
Pages 352
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There are approximately six thousand languages on Earth today, each a descendant of the tongue first spoken by Homo sapiens some 150,000 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.

The Language Hoax

The Language Hoax Author John H. McWhorter
ISBN-10 9780199361601
Release 2014-04-01
Pages 224
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Japanese has a term that covers both green and blue. Russian has separate terms for dark and light blue. Does this mean that Russians perceive these colors differently from Japanese people? Does language control and limit the way we think? This short, opinionated book addresses the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which argues that the language we speak shapes the way we perceive the world. Linguist John McWhorter argues that while this idea is mesmerizing, it is plainly wrong. It is language that reflects culture and worldview, not the other way around. The fact that a language has only one word for eat, drink, and smoke doesn't mean its speakers don't process the difference between food and beverage, and those who use the same word for blue and green perceive those two colors just as vividly as others do. McWhorter shows not only how the idea of language as a lens fails but also why we want so badly to believe it: we're eager to celebrate diversity by acknowledging the intelligence of peoples who may not think like we do. Though well-intentioned, our belief in this idea poses an obstacle to a better understanding of human nature and even trivializes the people we seek to celebrate. The reality -- that all humans think alike -- provides another, better way for us to acknowledge the intelligence of all peoples.

Winning the Race

Winning the Race Author John McWhorter
ISBN-10 9781101216774
Release 2005-12-29
Pages 448
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In his first major book on the state of black America since the New York Times bestseller Losing the Race, John McWhorter argues that a renewed commitment to achievement and integration is the only cure for the crisis in the African-American community. Winning the Race examines the roots of the serious problems facing black Americans today—poverty, drugs, and high incarceration rates—and contends that none of the commonly accepted reasons can explain the decline of black communities since the end of segregation in the 1960s. Instead, McWhorter posits that a sense of victimhood and alienation that came to the fore during the civil rights era has persisted to the present day in black culture, even though most blacks today have never experienced the racism of the segregation era. McWhorter traces the effects of this disempowering conception of black identity, from the validation of living permanently on welfare to gansta rap’s glorification of irresponsibility and violence as a means of “protest.” He discusses particularly specious claims of racism, attacks the destructive posturing of black leaders and the “hip-hop academics,” and laments that a successful black person must be faced with charges of “acting white.” While acknowledging that racism still exists in America today, McWhorter argues that both blacks and whites must move past blaming racism for every challenge blacks face, and outlines the steps necessary for improving the future of black America.

Losing the Race

Losing the Race Author John H. McWhorter
ISBN-10 9780684836690
Release 2000
Pages 285
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A professor of linguistics paints a controversial portrait of defeatism and pessimism in black America that threatens to hold young African Americans back.

Empires of the Word

Empires of the Word Author Nicholas Ostler
ISBN-10 9780062047359
Release 2011-03-22
Pages 640
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Nicholas Ostler's Empires of the Word is the first history of the world's great tongues, gloriously celebrating the wonder of words that binds communities together and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it. From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions to the engaging self-regard of Greek and to the struggles that gave birth to the languages of modern Europe, these epic achievements and more are brilliantly explored, as are the fascinating failures of once "universal" languages. A splendid, authoritative, and remarkable work, it demonstrates how the language history of the world eloquently reveals the real character of our planet's diverse peoples and prepares us for a linguistic future full of surprises.

Through the Language Glass

Through the Language Glass Author Guy Deutscher
ISBN-10 1429970111
Release 2010-08-31
Pages 320
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A masterpiece of linguistics scholarship, at once erudite and entertaining, confronts the thorny question of how—and whether—culture shapes language and language, culture Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers: too much simplistic (even bigoted) chatter about the romance of Italian and the goose-stepping orderliness of German has made serious thinkers wary of the entire subject. But now, acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher has dared to reopen the issue. Can culture influence language—and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Could our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for "blue"? Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are hard-wired in our genes and thus universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is—yes. In thrilling fashion, he takes us from Homer to Darwin, from Yale to the Amazon, from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water—a "she"—becomes a "he" once you dip a tea bag into her, demonstrating that language does in fact reflect culture in ways that are anything but trivial. Audacious, delightful, and field-changing, Through the Language Glass is a classic of intellectual discovery.

What the F

What the F Author Benjamin K. Bergen
ISBN-10 9780465096480
Release 2016-09-13
Pages 288
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It may be starred, beeped, and censored--yet profanity is so appealing that we can't stop using it. In the funniest, clearest study to date, Benjamin Bergen explains why, and what that tells us about our language and brains. Nearly everyone swears-whether it's over a few too many drinks, in reaction to a stubbed toe, or in flagrante delicto. And yet, we sit idly by as words are banned from television and censored in books. We insist that people excise profanity from their vocabularies and we punish children for yelling the very same dirty words that we'll mutter in relief seconds after they fall asleep. Swearing, it seems, is an intimate part of us that we have decided to selectively deny. That's a damn shame. Swearing is useful. It can be funny, cathartic, or emotionally arousing. As linguist and cognitive scientist Benjamin K. Bergen shows us, it also opens a new window onto how our brains process language and why languages vary around the world and over time. In this groundbreaking yet ebullient romp through the linguistic muck, Bergen answers intriguing questions: How can patients left otherwise speechless after a stroke still shout Goddamn! when they get upset? When did a cock grow to be more than merely a rooster? Why is crap vulgar when poo is just childish? Do slurs make you treat people differently? Why is the first word that Samoan children say not mommy but eat shit? And why do we extend a middle finger to flip someone the bird? Smart as hell and funny as fuck, What the F is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to know how and why we swear.

Mezzofanti s Gift

Mezzofanti s Gift Author Michael Sears
ISBN-10 9780715647028
Release 2013-07-18
Pages 320
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Multilingualism is on the rise - in the coming decades, as many as two billion people will learn English as a second language. The next stage up from multilingualism is the domain of the 'hyperpolyglot' or 'superlearner': someone who claims to know at least six languages. But what does it mean to 'know' a language? Can a person claim to speak a language fluently if it isn't their mother tongue? What role does culture play in learning languages? In this accessible and enthralling book, Michael Erard discusses the upper limits of the brain's capacity to learn languages and sheds light on the 'hyperpolyglot' phenomenon, from the Italian cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, who was said to speak as many as seventy-two languages, to the 'superlearners' of the 21st century.

The Unfolding of Language

The Unfolding of Language Author Guy Deutscher
ISBN-10 9781466837836
Release 2006-05-02
Pages 368
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Blending the spirit of Eats, Shoots & Leaves with the science of The Language Instinct, an original inquiry into the development of that most essential-and mysterious-of human creations: Language Language is mankind's greatest invention-except, of course, that it was never invented." So begins linguist Guy Deutscher's enthralling investigation into the genesis and evolution of language. If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of "man throw spear," how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced degrees of meaning? Drawing on recent groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication, giving us fresh insight into how language emerges, evolves, and decays. He traces the evolution of linguistic complexity from an early "Me Tarzan" stage to such elaborate single-word constructions as the Turkish sehirlilestiremediklerimizdensiniz ("you are one of those whom we couldn't turn into a town dweller"). Arguing that destruction and creation in language are intimately entwined, Deutscher shows how these processes are continuously in operation, generating new words, new structures, and new meanings. As entertaining as it is erudite, The Unfolding of Language moves nimbly from ancient Babylonian to American idiom, from the central role of metaphor to the staggering triumph of design that is the Semitic verb, to tell the dramatic story and explain the genius behind a uniquely human faculty.

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation Author Ella Frances Sanders
ISBN-10 9781607747116
Release 2014-09-16
Pages 112
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An artistic collection of more than 50 drawings featuring unique, funny, and poignant foreign words that have no direct translation into English. Did you know that the Japanese language has a word to express the way sunlight filters through the leaves of trees? Or that there’s a Finnish word for the distance a reindeer can travel before needing to rest? Lost in Translation brings to life more than fifty words that don’t have direct English translations with charming illustrations of their tender, poignant, and humorous definitions. Often these words provide insight into the cultures they come from, such as the Brazilian Portuguese word for running your fingers through a lover’s hair, the Italian word for being moved to tears by a story, or the Swedish word for a third cup of coffee. In this clever and beautifully rendered exploration of the subtleties of communication, you’ll find new ways to express yourself while getting lost in the artistry of imperfect translation. From the Hardcover edition.