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Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



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2 Burnside Linguistics- General

Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic

by

Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In a decidedly unstuffy look at the staid world of languages, Elizabeth Little uses her favorite examples from languages dead, difficult, and just plain made-up to reveal how language study is the ticket to traveling the world without leaving the comforts of home. Little¹s exploration of "word travel" includes Shona, a language lacking distinct words for "blue" or "green," why Icelandic speakers must decide if the numbers 1-4 are plural, which language is the only one lacking verbs, and just what, exactly, the Swedish names of IKEA products mean.

Fully illustrated with hilarious sidebars, Biting the Wax Tadpole also addresses classic cases of mistranslation. For example, when Chinese shopkeepers tried to find a phonetic written equivalent of Coca-Cola, one set of characters they chose were pronounced "ke-kou ke-la." It sounded right, but it translated literally as "bite the wax tadpole." Not quite what Coke had in mind, but in this off-kilter ode to the words of the world, it's just another example of language taking you someplace interesting.

Review:

"In her debut book, writer and editor Little searches in 'linguistic nooks and crannies' for the 'quirks, innovations and implausibilities of the world's languages,' threading witty pop culture references through tapestries of language trivia written with the not-so-linguistic reader in mind. (The title refers to the mistranslation in Chinese of 'Coca-Cola.') Little strips linguistics of its academic drudgery, showing how the Tangut language uses verbs by translating phrases like Johnny Cash's lyric 'I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die'; referring to pop-culture icons like Al Gore, Jabba the Hutt and the Smurfs to get the point across; and covering every language from Yoruba, a West African language, to the verbless Kelen, invented as an experiment by a Berkeley undergraduate. The book contains charming anecdotes, witty sidebars, attractive illustrations (by Ayumi Piland) and comprehensive linguistics lessons on topics ranging from the well-known ('Verbs conjugate, nouns decline') to the obscure (the disjunctive adjective: 'The most infamous English example is "hopefully," that famed bete noir of addled prescriptionist fussbudgets'). Little's strong sense of humor never overwhelms her love of languages in this fascinating yet educational introduction to linguistics for a wide, pop-savvy audience." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Biting the Wax Tadpole is nothing short of fascinating. In a funny, friendly style, Little dishes on everything you ever wanted to know about foreign languages but were afraid it would take an entire lifetime to find out." June Casagrande, author of Grammar Snobs Are Great Big Meanies

Review:

"If you like language, you'll love Biting the Wax Tadpole. Elizabeth Little has mused on, used, and even misused many of the planet's languages, and this fascinating and often hilarious book gives a full account of her adventures." Ben Greenman, author of A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Both and Superbad

Review:

"Biting the Wax Tadpole is witty, sassy, and laugh-out-loud funny. Little convincingly demonstrates that, as she puts it, 'language is nothing less than a great adventure.' So is her book." Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog

Review:

"This is a fun book for grammar and pop-culture lovers alike. Little provides grammar basics and little-known facts by incorporating stories of her travels, Star Wars, Dr. Seuss and other familiar icons. It's both a breezy read and a useful resource." ­ Pop Candy, USAToday.com

Synopsis:

In a decidedly unstuffy look at the staid world of languages, Elizabeth Little uses her favorite examples from languages dead, difficult, and just plain made-up to reveal how language study is the ticket to traveling the world without leaving the comforts of home. Little's exploration of word travel includes Shona, a language lacking distinct words for blue or green, why Icelandic speakers must decide if the numbers 1-4 are plural, which language is the only one lacking verbs, and just what, exactly, the Swedish names of IKEA products mean.

Synopsis:

"Charming anecdotes, witty sidebars, attractive illustrations.... Little’s strong sense of humor never overwhelms her love of languages in this fascinating yet educational introduction to linguistics for a wide, pop-savvy audience.” – Publishers Weekly

“A delightful language scrapbook – the deliberately disjointed diary of a language lover.” – Chicago Tribune

“A tour of all the quirk and queerness to be found among the world's many dialects ... her  meandering, highly-readable riffs on Finnish prepositions and Incan counting systems manage to be funny, earnest, and not funny becauseof their earnestness – something of a feat for a book that could be used as a grammar primer.” – The Onion A.V. Club

“A wrap-worthy language book. A multilingual voyage, exploring the ‘quirks, innovations, and implausibilities’ of the world's languages.” – Boston Globe

"This is a fun book for grammar and pop-culture lovers alike. Little provides grammar basics and little-known facts by incorporating stories of her travels, Star Wars, Dr. Seuss and other familiar icons. It's both a breezy read and a useful resource.” – Pop Candy, USAToday.com

“[A] quirky, funny, intelligent little book … complete with amusing illustrations. Little has packed her work chock-full of the world’s tantalizing linguistic nuggets.” – Newsday

"It's clear that Elizabeth Little's omnivorous curiosity has suited her well... This short, neon-colored book walks readers through categories that on paper should seem dry, from pronouns to numbers, spicing everything up with cultural comparisons.” - The Newark Star-Ledger

"[A] feisty romp through the world's languages.” - Rob Kyff, The Word Guy
 

“Witty, sassy, and laugh-out-loud funny. Little convincingly demonstrates that, as she puts it, 'language is nothing less than a great adventure.' So is her book.” – Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog

 "If you like language, you'll love Biting the Wax Tadpole. Elizabeth Little has mused on, used, and even misused many of the planet's languages, and this fascinating and often hilarious book gives a full account of her adventures.” – Ben Greenman, author of A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Bothand Superbad
   In a decidedly unstuffy look at the staid world of languages, Elizabeth Little uses her favorite examples from languages dead, difficult, and just plain made-up to reveal how language study is the ticket to traveling the world without leaving the comforts of home. Little’s exploration of “word travel” includes Shona, a language lacking distinct words for “blue” or “green,” why Icelandic speakers must decide if the numbers 1-4 are plural, which language is the only one lacking verbs, and just what, exactly, the Swedish names of IKEA products mean.

Fully illustrated with hilarious sidebars, Biting the Wax Tadpole also addresses classic cases of mistranslation. For example, when Chinese shopkeepers tried to find a phonetic written equivalent of Coca-Cola, one set of characters they chose were pronounced “ke-kou ke-la.” It sounded right, but it translated literally as “bite the wax tadpole.” Not quite what Coke had in mind, but in this off-kilter ode to the words of the world, it’s just another example of language taking you someplace interesting.

Elizabeth Little is a writer and editor living in New York City. She has worked as a literary agent and as a writer and editor for the travel guide Let's Go: China, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times. This is her first book.

About the Author

Elizabeth Little is a writer and editor living in New York City. She has worked as a literary agent and as a writer and editor for the travel guide Let's Go: China, and she writes regularly for The New York Times. This is her first book.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781933633336
Subtitle:
Confessions of a Language Fanatic
Author:
Little, Elizabeth
Publisher:
Melville House
Subject:
General
Subject:
Linguistics
Subject:
Sociolinguistics
Subject:
General Reference
Subject:
Language and languages
Subject:
Linguistics - General
Subject:
General-General
Copyright:
Publication Date:
20071101
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
184
Dimensions:
8.48x7.36x.76 in. .94 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Linguistics » General
Reference » Grammar and Style
Reference » Words Phrases and Language

Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic Used Hardcover
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$9.95 In Stock
Product details 184 pages Melville House - English 9781933633336 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In her debut book, writer and editor Little searches in 'linguistic nooks and crannies' for the 'quirks, innovations and implausibilities of the world's languages,' threading witty pop culture references through tapestries of language trivia written with the not-so-linguistic reader in mind. (The title refers to the mistranslation in Chinese of 'Coca-Cola.') Little strips linguistics of its academic drudgery, showing how the Tangut language uses verbs by translating phrases like Johnny Cash's lyric 'I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die'; referring to pop-culture icons like Al Gore, Jabba the Hutt and the Smurfs to get the point across; and covering every language from Yoruba, a West African language, to the verbless Kelen, invented as an experiment by a Berkeley undergraduate. The book contains charming anecdotes, witty sidebars, attractive illustrations (by Ayumi Piland) and comprehensive linguistics lessons on topics ranging from the well-known ('Verbs conjugate, nouns decline') to the obscure (the disjunctive adjective: 'The most infamous English example is "hopefully," that famed bete noir of addled prescriptionist fussbudgets'). Little's strong sense of humor never overwhelms her love of languages in this fascinating yet educational introduction to linguistics for a wide, pop-savvy audience." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Biting the Wax Tadpole is nothing short of fascinating. In a funny, friendly style, Little dishes on everything you ever wanted to know about foreign languages but were afraid it would take an entire lifetime to find out."
"Review" by , "If you like language, you'll love Biting the Wax Tadpole. Elizabeth Little has mused on, used, and even misused many of the planet's languages, and this fascinating and often hilarious book gives a full account of her adventures."
"Review" by , "Biting the Wax Tadpole is witty, sassy, and laugh-out-loud funny. Little convincingly demonstrates that, as she puts it, 'language is nothing less than a great adventure.' So is her book."
"Review" by , "This is a fun book for grammar and pop-culture lovers alike. Little provides grammar basics and little-known facts by incorporating stories of her travels, Star Wars, Dr. Seuss and other familiar icons. It's both a breezy read and a useful resource." ­
"Synopsis" by , In a decidedly unstuffy look at the staid world of languages, Elizabeth Little uses her favorite examples from languages dead, difficult, and just plain made-up to reveal how language study is the ticket to traveling the world without leaving the comforts of home. Little's exploration of word travel includes Shona, a language lacking distinct words for blue or green, why Icelandic speakers must decide if the numbers 1-4 are plural, which language is the only one lacking verbs, and just what, exactly, the Swedish names of IKEA products mean.
"Synopsis" by , "Charming anecdotes, witty sidebars, attractive illustrations.... Little’s strong sense of humor never overwhelms her love of languages in this fascinating yet educational introduction to linguistics for a wide, pop-savvy audience.” – Publishers Weekly

“A delightful language scrapbook – the deliberately disjointed diary of a language lover.” – Chicago Tribune

“A tour of all the quirk and queerness to be found among the world's many dialects ... her  meandering, highly-readable riffs on Finnish prepositions and Incan counting systems manage to be funny, earnest, and not funny becauseof their earnestness – something of a feat for a book that could be used as a grammar primer.” – The Onion A.V. Club

“A wrap-worthy language book. A multilingual voyage, exploring the ‘quirks, innovations, and implausibilities’ of the world's languages.” – Boston Globe

"This is a fun book for grammar and pop-culture lovers alike. Little provides grammar basics and little-known facts by incorporating stories of her travels, Star Wars, Dr. Seuss and other familiar icons. It's both a breezy read and a useful resource.” – Pop Candy, USAToday.com

“[A] quirky, funny, intelligent little book … complete with amusing illustrations. Little has packed her work chock-full of the world’s tantalizing linguistic nuggets.” – Newsday

"It's clear that Elizabeth Little's omnivorous curiosity has suited her well... This short, neon-colored book walks readers through categories that on paper should seem dry, from pronouns to numbers, spicing everything up with cultural comparisons.” - The Newark Star-Ledger

"[A] feisty romp through the world's languages.” - Rob Kyff, The Word Guy
 

“Witty, sassy, and laugh-out-loud funny. Little convincingly demonstrates that, as she puts it, 'language is nothing less than a great adventure.' So is her book.” – Kitty Burns Florey, author of Sister Bernadette’s Barking Dog

 "If you like language, you'll love Biting the Wax Tadpole. Elizabeth Little has mused on, used, and even misused many of the planet's languages, and this fascinating and often hilarious book gives a full account of her adventures.” – Ben Greenman, author of A Circle is a Balloon and Compass Bothand Superbad
   In a decidedly unstuffy look at the staid world of languages, Elizabeth Little uses her favorite examples from languages dead, difficult, and just plain made-up to reveal how language study is the ticket to traveling the world without leaving the comforts of home. Little’s exploration of “word travel” includes Shona, a language lacking distinct words for “blue” or “green,” why Icelandic speakers must decide if the numbers 1-4 are plural, which language is the only one lacking verbs, and just what, exactly, the Swedish names of IKEA products mean.

Fully illustrated with hilarious sidebars, Biting the Wax Tadpole also addresses classic cases of mistranslation. For example, when Chinese shopkeepers tried to find a phonetic written equivalent of Coca-Cola, one set of characters they chose were pronounced “ke-kou ke-la.” It sounded right, but it translated literally as “bite the wax tadpole.” Not quite what Coke had in mind, but in this off-kilter ode to the words of the world, it’s just another example of language taking you someplace interesting.

Elizabeth Little is a writer and editor living in New York City. She has worked as a literary agent and as a writer and editor for the travel guide Let's Go: China, and her writing has appeared in The New York Times. This is her first book.

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