Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of Americas Languagesby Elizabeth Little
Yet billing America as a bilingual country is a gross misrepresentation. They speak Basque in
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Though we speak English as a nation, its no secret that America is far from uniform. Spanish, in particular, has long been touted as the language that will figure into our national future; much has been written about the need to recognize it in our laws and schools.
Yet billing America as a bilingual country is a gross misrepresentation. They speak Basque in Nevada, Hindi in San Jose, and Gullah in South Carolina. We speak European, Asian, and Native American languages, as well as hybrids like Creole and Spanglish. And Elizabeth Littles home--Queens, New York--is among the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse places on the planet.
Small surprise, then, that Little felt a yearning to find the cultural and linguistic soul of the country. And she has done it in the most American way imaginable: on a road trip.
This book is the result: a festive roadmap of the bounties of our country. Well learn about the struggle of the French-speaking population of Maine to get along with the community around them; the traditional ways of the German-speaking Amish in Pennsylvania; and the rich history of the little-known African population of Nantucket. Elizabeth Little is a witty and endearing tourguide for this memorable and original trip.
Fascinating…Little's obvious enthusiasm drives the prose and keeps the information fresh and relevant. Arguing that language heritage is about more than the use of definite articles, Little delivers a revealing lesson in history, culture, prejudice, and privilege.
Little makes for a perfect tour guide. More than a collection of fascinating linguistic details (though it is that), by the end this book deepens into a full-throated defense of everybody's native tongues, and the right - no, the need - to hang onto them.
- Bloomsbury USA
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Meet the Author
Elizabeth Little is the author of Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic. A Harvard graduate with a degree in Social Studies, she has formal training in Ancient Greek, Classical Chinese, Standard Mandarin, French, and Italian. She is currently a freelance writer and editor and lives in Los Angeles. Her website is http://www.elizabeth-little.com.
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I like this book becus it has dumb facts abuot the trolles and it's funny to i can tell you one of the facts abuot the trolles thay can grow trees on ther feet and ther heds to thts way i think you shuod read this book.
A "celebration of American multiculturalism," Trip of the Tongue was a fascinating read. Part memoir, part travel book, and a historical and linguistic adventure all rolled in one, Elizabeth Little explores some of the (very numerous!) languages that make up the United States. Little devotes chapters to several Native American languages, French and Louisiana Creole, Gullah (how did I live in Charleston, South Carolina for six years without learning about Gullah?!), Basque, Norwegian, Haitian Creole, and Spanish, while starting off and concluding with English. As she says in the introduction, "the most interesting story English has to tell . . . is the fact that English is spoken at all." One complaint I have specific to the ebook version. Even with publisher defaults turned on, whenever Little included charts/images, the font was very, very tiny. I couldn't zoom in, and changing the font size only affected the text around it. Though not terribly frequent, this was content I wanted to read, and there were enough instances to make me wish I'd purchased a print copy. Little's tone would sometimes shift suddenly between slightly formal and very casual. This is where the memoir feel comes in. It was a bit odd to be reading about history and linguistics (such as the above example) and then come across a phrase like "it was hotter than Satan's sweaty ball sack." Don't get me wrong - I totally laughed. I was just caught off guard. After I got used to these shifts, I was kind of thankful for the breaks the lighter sections gave me. Trip of the Tongue shows the impact slavery, colonialism, prejudice, and privilege have on language. It also looks into the reasons languages die off, as well as what some communities are doing to prevent that. If you are half as fascinated with language as I am, you'll love this book!