The Unfolding of Language

The Unfolding of Language

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Blending the spirit of Eats, Shoots a Leaves with the science of The Language Instinct, an original inquiry into the development of that most essential-and mysterious-of human creations: Language Language is mankind's greatest invention-except, of course, that it was never invented.q So begins linguist Guy Deutscher's enthralling investigation into the genesis and evolution of language. If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of qman throw spear, q how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced degrees of meaning? Drawing on recent groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication, giving us fresh insight into how language emerges, evolves, and decays. He traces the evolution of linguistic complexity from an early qMe Tarzanq stage to such elaborate single-word constructions as the Turkish sehirlilestiremediklerimizdensiniz (qyou are one of those whom we couldn't turn into a town dwellerq). Arguing that destruction and creation in language are intimately entwined, Deutscher shows how these processes are continuously in operation, generating new words, new structures, and new meanings. As entertaining as it is erudite, The Unfolding of Language moves nimbly from ancient Babylonian to American idiom, from the central role of metaphor to the staggering triumph of design that is the Semitic verb, to tell the dramatic story and explain the genius behind a uniquely human faculty.... as that of Italian, French, Spanish, Irish, Welsh, Russian, Lithuanian, Polish, Greek, Albanian, and even Armenian, Persian, Hindi and Punjabi. ... Nonetheless , the realization that change is a chronic condition that all languages suffer from only sharpens a fundamental question - why? ... The first reaction might be that the answer is glaringly obvious. ... and new ideas, from ploughs to laser printers, and from political-correctness to sms-texting, and that is why it always changes.

Title:The Unfolding of Language
Author:Guy Deutscher
Publisher:Macmillan - 2006-05-02


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