Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Languages

Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Languages

by Elizabeth Little


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781596916562
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA
Publication date: 03/01/2012
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

About 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

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Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Languages 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
debnance on LibraryThing 7 months ago
I love travel narratives. I¿m not happy if I haven¿t read a good travel narrative at least once a month.I am also fascinated with languages. I¿ve been trying to learn Spanish for fifteen years now, I spent six months learning French before a trip to Paris, and I plan to learn Italian next summer. This book, then, is a perfect book for me, a travel narrative of a woman who seeks out languages spoken around the United States. Author Elizabeth Little heads off to the American West to seek out Native American languages, goes to Louisiana to look for French and Creole, goes to North Dakota to experience the language spoken by her family - Norwegian, and ventures into the American Southwest to see how Spanish is spoken.Very good travel narrative. I must admit that Little lost me every time she started speaking linguistics (the etymology of words was especially mind-boggling), but the truth is that the book is more travel narrative than a linguistics narrative. Thank goodness!
JBD1 on LibraryThing 7 months ago
Elizabeth Little's Trip of the Tongue is an often-amusing travelogue through the languages of the continental U.S., as well as an important argument in favor of linguistic diversity and all that it brings to the nation's culture.At first I was somewhat frustrated by this book, thinking that Little focused a bit too much on her travels and her desire to go out drinking and not enough on the languages she was profiling. But as the book continued, I got more comfortable with her style, and I ended up quite enjoying the ride.From Basque in Nevada to Norwegian in North Dakota to Navajo in Arizona and Creole in New Orleans, Little profiles languages from all regions of America, meeting speakers and linguists, experiencing the culture around the language, and delving into the mechanics of the languges themselves.Finally, though, Little examines the history of American languages through the lens of prejudice and privilege which has led to the loss of many languages already, and likely the extinction of many more before many more decades have passed. The delightful romp turns into something of a paean to linguistic diversity, and this is a much more interesting book for it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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.
lovelybookshelf More than 1 year ago
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!