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In this classic, the world's expert on language and the mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution.
This introduction to the history of languages opens by examining what languages hunter-gatherers might have spoken, and then investigates the effects on language of human developments like agriculture, writing, empires, and religions. Janson also discusses how new languages appear, why some spread and others die, and what causes internal language change. The book ranges widely among the world's languages and mixes thematic chapters on general processes of change with accounts of specific languages.
"The Last Speakers" is the poignant chronicle of author Harrison's expeditions around the world to meet with last speakers of vanishing languages. The speakers' eloquent reflections and candid photographs reveal little-known lifeways as well as revitalization efforts to teach disappearing languages to younger generations. Thought-provoking and engaging, this unique book illuminates the global language-extinction crisis through photos, graphics, interviews, traditional wisdom, and first-person essays.
Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers; there has been too much simplistic (even bigoted) chatter about the romance of Italian and the orderliness of German. But now, linguist Deutscher dares to reopen the issue. Can language influence culture? Can different languages lead to different thoughts? Can our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for "blue"? Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is yes.
The letters of the alphabet have been the object of speculation since their invention almost 4000 years ago. The symbols represent sounds, yet they exist in their own right, often invested with quasi-magical power. This book examines the many imaginative, often idiosyncratic ways in which the letters of the alphabet have been assigned value in political, spiritual, or religious belief systems over two millennia.
Throughout time, word collectors have proven an unusual breed, and their stories fill "Chasing the Sun," Jonathon Green's scholarly and immensely readable history of lexicography--the process of writing a dictionary. Contrary to Samuel Johnson's famous description of the lexicographer as no more than a "harmless drudge," Green celebrates the "drudge triumphant." As interpreter and arbiter of language itself, the dictionary maker here proves to be closer to deity than to drudge.
"Deaf around the World" is a compendium of work by scholars and activists on the creation, context, and form of sign languages, and on the social issues and civil rights of Deaf communities on six continents.
Recently the contested areas of English usage have grown. Should we say transgender or transsexual? Should we speak of people as being disabled, or challenged, or differently abled? More generally, we ask, can we use language in ways that avoid giving expression to prejudices embedded within it? Can the words we use help us point a way towards a better world? To these questions this concise and user-friendly guide answers yes, while offering clear-headed discussions of many of the key issues.