The New York Times Book of Language and Linguistics

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In the latest book in the series, editor Nicholas Wade and several award-winning New York Times journalists explore the mysterious roots of language. Their coverage ranges from the efforts to chronicle ancient languages to the examination of fossil records to determine whether Neanderthals had language, and around the evolutionary bend to the study of chimpanzees and their ability to "talk" using sign boards to convey fear, hunger, and their deceptive sense of humor.
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Overview

In the latest book in the series, editor Nicholas Wade and several award-winning New York Times journalists explore the mysterious roots of language. Their coverage ranges from the efforts to chronicle ancient languages to the examination of fossil records to determine whether Neanderthals had language, and around the evolutionary bend to the study of chimpanzees and their ability to "talk" using sign boards to convey fear, hunger, and their deceptive sense of humor.
Chapters expound upon: "The History of Language"; "Archaeology and Language," which includes the findings in the Tarim Basin of China that reveal remains of Caucasian mummies dating from 2,000 to 600 B.C., and their written language; "Language in Other Species," in which the subsonic songs of female African elephants are detected traveling up to two miles through the ground to announce herd movement and mating possibilities, and the rich rhyming schemes of the seasonal songs of humpback whales are described; "Language and Learning"; "Language and the Brain"; and finally "Language and Society," which addresses contemporary concerns of our own multilingual nation.
With detailed illustrations that appeared in the original articles, and insightful introductions to each chapter by Nicholas Wade, this book is sure to fascinate anyone who has an interest in language and culture.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
Praise for earlier books in the series:"A gratifying and artful blend of edification and entertainment."--Kirkus Reviews
KLIATT
This intriguing examination of recent findings on various aspects of language and linguistic issues comprises 40 articles drawn from the pages of the science section of The New York Times. The articles, written by 15 authors, are organized into six sections, each of which is preceded by a brief introduction by the editor. "The Tree of Language" explores the controversial notion that all languages may ultimately be traced back to one original human language. "Language in Other Species" examines the linguistic capabilities of such nonhuman creatures as apes, whales, and elephants. The articles in "The Acquisition of Language" address the manner in which infants acquire their language skills. This section is followed by "Language and the Brain," which discusses how the brain is organized to understand and generate language. The articles in "Language and Society" address such cultural issues as the deciphering of ancient writings and current efforts to preserve dying languages from extinction. Finally, "The Latest From the Field" explores such issues as the recent discovery of a gene involved specifically in language. Although these articles were originally intended for the adult general public and not for language specialists, some of the pieces may strike YAs as a bit dry and technical. For slightly more sophisticated readers with even a minimal background in; or at least, healthy curiosity about; fundamental linguistic, anthropological, and cultural issues, this fascinating anthology is sure to prove intellectually rewarding. KLIATT Codes: SA;Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Lyons Press, 215p.,
— Jeffrey Cooper
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585747931
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2003
  • Series: New York Times Series
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 7.02 (w) x 9.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Nicholas Wade

NICHOLAS WADE, a science reporter for The New York Times, was the editor of the Science Times from 1990 through 1996. He is also the author of The Ultimate Experiment, The Nobel Duel, Betrayers of the Truth (with William J. Broad), and A World Beyond Healing, and editor of the Science Times books (page 202). He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1
1 The Tree of Language 3
Linguists Dig Deeper into Origins of Language 5
Linguists Debating Deepest Roots of Language 10
Gene Study Sees No Tie to Spread of Languages 16
When No One Read, Who Started to Write? 19
New Family Tree Is Constructed for Indo-European 26
Scholars Debate Roots of Yiddish, Migration of Jews 31
Mummies, Textiles Offer Evidence of Europeans in Far East 37
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza; A Geneticist Maps Ancient Migrations 45
2 Language in Other Species 51
Look Who's Talking. Don't Bother Listening 53
Ancestral Humans Could Speak, Anthropologists' Finding Suggests 56
Brain of Chimpanzee Sheds Light on Mystery of Language 60
Chimp Talk Debate: Is It Really Language? 64
She Talks to Apes and, According to Her, They Talk Back 70
Picking Up Mammals' Deep Notes 74
3 The Acquisition of Language 81
In Brain's Early Growth, Timetable May Be Crucial 83
Linguists Debate Study Classifying Language as Innate Human Skill 90
Babies Learn Sounds of Language by Six Months 95
Study Finds Baby Talk Means More Than a Coo 98
Studies Show Talking with Infants Shapes Basis of Ability to Think 101
Deaf Babies Use Their Hands to Babble, Researcher Finds 107
Removing Half of Brain Improves Young Epileptics' Lives 110
Test-Tube Moms 113
When an Adult Adds a Language, It's One Brain, Two Systems 119
Old Brains Can Learn New Language Tricks 122
Scientists Track the Process of Reading Through the Brain 126
4 Language and the Brain 131
Brain Yields New Clues on Its Organization for Language 134
The Mystery of Music: How It Works in the Brain 141
Odd Disorder of Brain May Offer New Clues 149
Brain May Have Separate Units to Digest Writing and Speech 155
Subtle But Intriguing Differences Found in the Brain Anatomy of Men and Women 158
Men and Women Use Brain Differently, Study Discovers 163
5 Language and Society 167
Laughs: Rhythmic Bursts of Social Glue 169
Time Almost Buried Ancient Maya Secrets 176
Language of Early Americans Is Deciphered 178
In a Publishing Coup, Books in "Unwritten" Languages 184
Indians Striving to Save Their Languages 189
6 The Latest from the Field 195
What We All Spoke When the World Was Young 198
Expert Says He Discerns "Hard-Wired" Grammar Rules 205
Researchers Say Gene Is Linked to Language 209
Language Gene is Traced to Emergence of Humans 213
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