The Unfolding of Language

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9780099460251: The Unfolding of Language

Blending the spirit of Bill Bryson’s Mother Tongue with the science of Steven Pinker’s The Language Instinct, The Unfolding of Language is a remarkably 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.’ So begins this enthralling investigation into the evolution of language. Given that no-one sits down to design languages, how did there come to be so many, and of such elaborate design? If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of ‘man throw spear’, how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced shades 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 is formed, evolves, and decays. He traces the emergence of linguistic complexity from an early evolutionary ‘Me Tarzan’ stage to the astonishing power of languages today, with their capacity to express even the subtlest thoughts and ideas. From the written records of lost civilizations to the spoken idiom of today’s streets, we move from ancient Babylonian through medieval French to the English of the present. We marvel at the staggering triumph of design that is the Semitic verb, puzzle over single words that can express highly elaborate sentiments, and learn how great changes of pronunciation may result from simple laziness. Through the dramatic story of The Unfolding of Language, we discover the genius behind a uniquely human faculty.


From the Hardcover edition.

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About the Author:

Born in 1969, Guy Deutscher read Maths at Cambridge before doing a PhD in Linguistics. Formerly a Research Fellow in Historical Linguistics at St John's College, Cambridge, he is now at the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages in the University of Leiden. He lives in Amsterdam.


From the Hardcover edition.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights 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 thousands of years before Einstein

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Language is mankind s greatest invention - except of course, that it was never invented. So begins Guy Deutscher s fascinating investigation into the evolution of language. No one believes that the Roman Senate sat down one day to design the complex system that is Latin grammar, and few believe, these days, in the literal truth of the story of the Tower of Babel. But then how did there come to be so many languages, and of such elaborate design? If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of man throw spear , how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced shades of meaning? Drawing on recent, groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication. Along the way, we learn why German maidens are neuter while German turnips are female, why we have feet not foots, and how great changes in pronunciation may result from simple laziness. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099460251

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Book Description Cornerstone, United Kingdom, 2011. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 198 x 132 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. Language is mankind s greatest invention - except of course, that it was never invented. So begins Guy Deutscher s fascinating investigation into the evolution of language. No one believes that the Roman Senate sat down one day to design the complex system that is Latin grammar, and few believe, these days, in the literal truth of the story of the Tower of Babel. But then how did there come to be so many languages, and of such elaborate design? If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of man throw spear , how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced shades of meaning? Drawing on recent, groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication. Along the way, we learn why German maidens are neuter while German turnips are female, why we have feet not foots, and how great changes in pronunciation may result from simple laziness. Bookseller Inventory # AAZ9780099460251

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Book Description Cornerstone, 2006. Book Condition: New. Presents an investigation into the evolution of language. This book exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication. Along the way, it teaches why German maidens are neuter while German turnips are female, why we have feet not foots, and how great changes of pronunciation may result from simple laziness. Num Pages: 368 pages, illustrations. BIC Classification: CFFD; J. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 196 x 130 x 23. Weight in Grams: 262. . 2006. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099460251

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Book Description Cornerstone. Book Condition: New. Presents an investigation into the evolution of language. This book exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication. Along the way, it teaches why German maidens are neuter while German turnips are female, why we have feet not foots, and how great changes of pronunciation may result from simple laziness. Num Pages: 368 pages, illustrations. BIC Classification: CFFD; J. Category: (P) Professional & Vocational; (U) Tertiary Education (US: College). Dimension: 196 x 130 x 23. Weight in Grams: 262. . 2006. Paperback. . . . . Bookseller Inventory # V9780099460251

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