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Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages (10 Edition)by Guy Deutscher
Synopses & ReviewsPlease note that used books may not include additional media (study guides, CDs, DVDs, solutions manuals, etc.) as described in the publisher comments.
English is the language of science today. No matter which languages you know, if you want your work seen, studied, and cited, you need to publish in English. But that hasnand#8217;t always been the case. Though there was a time when Latin dominated the field, for centuries science has been a polyglot enterprise, conducted in a number of languages whose importance waxed and waned over timeand#151;until the rise of English in the twentieth century.
So how did we get from there to here? How did French, German, Latin, Russian, and even Esperanto give way to English? And what can we reconstruct of the experience of doing science in the polyglot past? With Scientific Babel, Michael D. Gordin resurrects that lost world, in part through an ingenious mechanism: the pages of his highly readable narrative account teem with footnotesand#151;not offering background information, but presenting quoted material in its original language. The result is stunning: as we read about the rise and fall of languages, driven by politics, war, economics, and institutions, we actually see it happen in the ever-changing web of multilingual examples. The history of science, and of English as its dominant language, comes to life, and brings with it a new understanding not only of the frictions generated by a scientific community that spoke in many often mutually unintelligible voices, but also of the possibilities of the polyglot, and the losses that the dominance of English entails.
Few historians of science write as well as Gordin, and Scientific Babel reveals his incredible command of the literature, language, and intellectual essence of science past and present. No reader who takes this linguistic journey with him will be disappointed.
"This fascinating pop-linguistics study contends that how we talk influences how we think about the world, from the way we give directions to the colors poets see. Drawing on everything from classics to anthropology and brain scans, linguist Deutscher (The Unfolding of Language) abjures the crude notion that language makes Italians frivolous or gives Hopis a mystical disregard for time. Rather, he insists that linguistic conventions subtly alter basic perceptions. The examples he highlights are delightful and thought-provoking: speakers of languages, such as French and German, in which inanimate objects have gender actually associate gendered qualities with objects; speakers of the Australian Guugu Yimithirr language denote spatial relationships by cardinal points--'Ã¢Â€Â˜look out for that big ant just north of your foot''--and therefore develop an internal compass that puts a GPS to shame. The author upsets a few linguistics apple carts, challenging both Noam Chomsky's theory of an innate human grammar and Steven Pinker's view of language as a cognitively neutral system for representing the environment. Deutscher's erudite yet entertaining arguments (and cunning illustrations) usually stick; they make for a fascinating exploration of culture's ability to shape the mind. Photos. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Acclaimed linguist Deutscher asks if culture influences language--and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is--yes.
A New York Times Editors Choice
An Economist Best Book of 2010
A Financial Times Best Book of 2010
A Library Journal Best Book of 2010
The debate is ages old: Where does language come from? Is it an artifact of our culture or written in our very DNA? In recent years, the leading linguists have seemingly settled the issue: all languages are fundamentally the same and the particular language we speak does not shape our thinking in any significant way. Guy Deutscher says theyre wrong. From Homer to Darwin, from Yale to the Amazon, and through a strange and dazzling history of the color blue, Deutscher argues that our mother tongues do indeed shape our experiences of the world. Audacious, delightful, and provocative, Through the Language Glass is destined to become a classic of intellectual discovery.
A masterpiece of linguistics scholarship, at once erudite and entertaining, confronts the thorny question of how—and whether—culture shapes language and language, culture
Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers: too much simplistic (even bigoted) chatter about the romance of Italian and the goose-stepping orderliness of German has made serious thinkers wary of the entire subject. But now, acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher has dared to reopen the issue. Can culture influence language—and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Could our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for "blue"?
Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are hard-wired in our genes and thus universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is—yes. In thrilling fashion, he takes us from Homer to Darwin, from Yale to the Amazon, from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water—a "she"—becomes a "he" once you dip a tea bag into her, demonstrating that language does in fact reflect culture in ways that are anything but trivial. Audacious, delightful, and field-changing, Through the Language Glass is a classic of intellectual discovery.
About the Author
Guy Deutscher is the author of The Unfolding of Language. Formerly a fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, he is an honorary research fellow at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester. He lives in Oxford, England.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Talking Science
Chapter 1: The Perfect Past That Almost Was
Chapter 2: The Table and the Word
Chapter 3: Hydrogen Oxygenovich
Chapter 4: Speaking Utopian
Chapter 5: The Wizards of Ido
Chapter 6: The Linguistic Shadow of the Great War
Chapter 7: Unspeakable
Chapter 8: The Dostoevsky Machine
Chapter 9: All the Russian Thatand#8217;s Fit to Print
Chapter 10: The Fe Curtain
Chapter 11: Anglophonia
Conclusion: Babel Beyond
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