The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language

The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language

by Christine Kenneally


$15.71 $17.00 Save 8% Current price is $15.71, Original price is $17. You Save 8%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Choose Expedited Shipping at checkout for guaranteed delivery by Wednesday, November 21

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143113744
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/27/2008
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 509,193
Product dimensions: 5.52(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.78(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Author of The Invisible History of the Human Race and The First WordChristine Kenneally is an award-winning journalist who has written for The New Yorker, the New York Times, Slate, Time, New Scientist, The Monthly, and other publications. Before becoming a reporter, she received a PhD in linguistics from Cambridge University and a BA (with honors) in English and linguistics from Melbourne University. She was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, and has lived in England, Iowa, and Brooklyn, New York.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
dickmanikowski on LibraryThing 2 days ago
While this wasn't the book I expected it to be, it was great. I'd expected something tracing modern languages back to their roots--Italian back to Latin back to that languages's Indo-European roots, etc.Instead, the author explores various issues that modern linguists are investigating regarding the causes of the human phenomenon of language. Are there one or more genes that are responsible for the development of language? Are there antecedents of language in the animal world? The book goes into a lot of detail. To be honest, I skimmed over parts of it. But I found it interesting enough to read it all the way through.
goodinthestacks on LibraryThing 2 days ago
"The First Word: The Search for the Origins of Language" covers the very fascinating topic of language and where it came from and why. The first part of the book discussed several of the major theories about language origins, and I felt this was where the book was strongest. The rest of the book looked in great detail at experiments and theories involving language in animals other than ourselves because to know where we are, one has to know where we've been. Accepting evolution as to how humans got to where they are, by looking at our ancestors, the researches and scientists are trying to determine if language is uniquely human, if it is something we are born with in our genes, or if it is just a happy circumstance. While this is interesting, I felt the book dragged on a bit here. I was very interested in reading the epilogue, which posed the question of if a group of babies were stranded on an island, would they develop language? The babies are somehow cared for or survive, but that isn't the point. The point is would language develop and what would it be like. I was expecting an exciting finish to the book with this thought experiment, but it didn't really live up to my expectations. Some answers were great and lengthy and descriptive. Others were either a flat "no" or "yes, as long as there are two babies." In reading this book, I was hoping to find out how language shapes our lives and our thoughts because without language, we would not be able to communicate as we do and you would not have been able to read this review.
annbury on LibraryThing 2 days ago
Another recent work on the rapidly evolving field of language evolution. I did not find it as satisfying a some others, in part because it seems to focus more on the development of the discipline of language evolution than on language evolution itself. Also, I found it less engagingly written than Pinker, for example, or Deutscher. Still worth reading, however, for those interested in this fascinating topic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I loved this book. It's probably not for everyone, but if you have an interest in how we human beings came to be able to talk, this will show you most everything that scholars know at the moment--and what they know today is astounding. It's not easy to make such a complex, technical subject accessible to non-specialists, but Christine Kenneally has done a superb job. I am not a linguist, but I found the book perfectly clear and beautifully organized. I would recommend this especially to English and language teachers-- from elementary school teachers to graduate school profs. Almost nobody has been taught much about the evolution of language, and it's an area that a well-informed language teacher really ought to be familiar with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A lot of good insight into the 'search' for answers as to the origins of language but part one could have been omitted. Overall, it gives the interested reader more information about the study of lanuage and different takes on the issue, but no clear signs. The reader could come up with their own conclusion.