What Language Is

What Language Is

And What It Isn't and What It Could Be

Book - 2011
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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.
Publisher: New York : Gotham Books, 2011.
ISBN: 9781592406258
1592406254
Branch Call Number: 400 McWhorte 07/2011
Characteristics: 228 p. ;,22 cm.

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Feb 21, 2017

Although written with an informal tone, the style helps one to follow what is being said with little effort. The various properties of natural language that he considers are exemplified with the use of (mostly) obscure languages. It was edifying without ever being tedious.

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