The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue

The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue

by Merritt Ruhlen
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

The Origin of Language

A critically acclaimed journey back through time in search of the Mother Tongue and the roots of the human family

"Invites the reader to learn and apply the common process used by linguists." —Science News

"This book represents exactly the kind of thinking that is needed to pull historical linguistics out of its

See more details below

Overview

The Origin of Language

A critically acclaimed journey back through time in search of the Mother Tongue and the roots of the human family

"Invites the reader to learn and apply the common process used by linguists." —Science News

"This book represents exactly the kind of thinking that is needed to pull historical linguistics out of its twentieth-century doldrums. . . . [W]ithout a doubt, a very readable book, well adapted to its popularizing aim." —LOS Forum

"Believing that doing is learning, Ruhlen encourages his readers to try their hand (and eye) at classifying languages. This exercise helps us appreciate the challenges inherent in this fascinating and controversial science of comparative linguistics." —Booklist

"Ruhlen is a leader in the new attempt to write the unified theory of language development and diffusion." —Library Journal

"A powerful statement [and] also a wonderfully clear exposition of linguistic thinking about prehistory. . . . [Q]uite solid and very well presented." —Anthropological Science

Read More

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The study of linguistics has always been a good guidepost to research and studies in the other social sciences and humanities. Ruhlen (A Guide to the World's Languages, Stanford Univ. Pr., 1987) is a leader in the new attempt to write a unified theory of language development and diffusion. Starting with a do-it-yourself classification of language, he makes the case for one early language, using Joseph Greenberg's study of Native American languages as the key methodology in the reevaluation. He also cites the evidence in many fields pointing to an African development and then diffusion of Homo sapiens. An argumentative, controversial book but strongly reasoned and presented. Ruhlen explains the relationship among genetics, archaeology, and linguistic classification as an important new development in the study of prehistory and discusses the questions of the dating of early settlements in the Americas and Europe and the Banty Expansion. For informed lay readers.-Gene Shaw, NYPL
Donna Seaman
Believing that doing is learning, Ruhlen encourages his readers to try their hand (and eye) at classifying languages. This exercise helps us appreciate the challenges inherent in the fascinating and controversial science of comparative linguistics. The theory behind this discipline states that languages evolve, travel, and interrelate. Working backward in time and history, Ruhlen describes the family of languages most familiar to his audience, the Indo-European, but soon has us scanning lists of words from a selection of African, Asian, and Native American tongues. Just as in a family tree, genetic linguistics links daughters to mothers to grandmothers, all the way back to prehistoric ancestors. At each crucial juncture, Ruhlen summarizes the pioneering work of linguists Sir William Jones, Joseph Greenberg, and Edward Sapir, each of whom discovered a protofamily at the root of hundreds of languages worldwide. The story of why these revelations were met with such resistance and resentment is a study in prejudice and close-mindedness. Ruhlen confidently concludes with a convincing argument for a common origin of all extant languages, whether that offends our cultural pride or not.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471584261
Publisher:
Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
Publication date:
05/06/1994
Pages:
239
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.58(h) x 0.87(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >