From the Publisher
“A lively and thought-provoking exploration of why language change appears to be haphazard yet is fundamentally orderly. Exciting, witty, and a masterpiece of contemporary scholarship.” Elizabeth Closs Traugott, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and English, Stanford University
“At last, an entertaining and readable book that presents the most current views on language and its evolution.” Joan Bybee, Professor of Linguistics, University of New Mexico
“Thoroughly enjoyable... Guy Deutscher is an erudite and entertaining guide through the paradoxes and complexities of language evolution.” Gene Gragg, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics, University of Chicago
Read an Excerpt The Unfolding of Language
An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention
By Guy Deutscher Owl Books (NY)
Copyright © 2006 Guy Deutscher
All right reserved.
How do languages evolve? Why does language always change-and does it decline or does it progress? How did language ever become so complex? In The Unfolding of Language, Guy Deutscher responds to the big questions with big answers, along the way solving such mysteries as
- why German maidens are neuter but German turnips are female
- how words manage to accomplish a complete U-turn in their meaning over a relatively short time-like the word "resent," which, in the seventeenth century, meant "appreciate" or "feel grateful for"
- why Islam, Muslim, and Solomon are all variations on one Semitic root, s-l-m ("be at peace")
- how the design of Sumerian (the language spoken 5,000 years ago by the people who kick-started history) is so sophisticated that even a pause in the middle of a word can convey specific information
- why we have feet and not foots
- how the French came to say "on the day of this day" when they mean "today"
- why most of the world's languages don't have a verb for "have"-and how one goes about expressing the notion of possession without it
- why human intuition-as evidenced by all human languages-discovered the connection between space and time thousandsof years before Einstein
Excerpted from The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher Copyright © 2006 by Guy Deutscher. Excerpted by permission.
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