Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler. he story of the world in the last five thousand years is above all the story of its languages. Some shared language is what binds any community together and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it. Yet the history of the world's great languages has been very little told. Empires of the Word, by the wide-ranging linguist Nicholas Ostler, is the first to bring together the tales in all their glorious variety: the amazing innovations in education, culture, and diplomacy devised by speakers of Sumerian and its successors in the Middle East, right up to the Arabic of the present day; the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions; the charmed progress of Sanskrit from north India to Java and Japan; the engaging self-regard of Greek; the struggles that gave birth to the languages of modern Europe; and the global spread of English. Besides these epic achievements, language failures are equally fascinating: Why did German get left behind? Why did Egyptian, which had survived foreign takeovers for three millennia, succumb to Mohammed's Arabic? Why is Dutch unknown in modern Indonesia, though the Netherlands had ruled the East Indies for as long as the British ruled India? As this book splendidly and authoritatively reveals, the language history of the world shows eloquently the real character of peoples; and, for all the recent technical mastery of English, nothing guarantees our language's long-term preeminence. The language future, like the language past, will be full of surprises.
The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language by Steven Pinker. In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.
A Little Book of Language by David Crystal. With a language disappearing every two weeks and neologisms springing up almost daily, an understanding of the origins and currency of language has never seemed more relevant. In this charming volume, a narrative history written explicitly for a young audience, expert linguist David Crystal proves why the story of language deserves retelling. From the first words of an infant to the peculiar modern dialect of text messaging, A Little Book of Language ranges widely, revealing language's myriad intricacies and quirks. In animated fashion, Crystal sheds light on the development of unique linguistic styles, the origins of obscure accents, and the search for the first written word. He discusses the plight of endangered languages, as well as successful cases of linguistic revitalization. Much more than a history, Crystal's work looks forward to the future of language, exploring the effect of technology on our day-to-day reading, writing, and speech. Through enlightening tables, diagrams, and quizzes, as well as Crystal's avuncular and entertaining style, A Little Book of Language will reveal the story of language to be a captivating tale for all ages.
Talk Dirty Italian by Alexis Munier and Emmanuel Tichelli. This sort of Italian isn't Church sanctioned. Whether ordering a slice in Little Italy or riding along the Grand Canal, Talk Dirty: Italian is your guide to truly spitting the sauce. Loaded with plenty of words and expressions that could make Tony Soprano blush, you'll sound like you just got off the boat with entries like the one below. And with the curses, slang, and idiomatic expressions split into different situation-based sections, you're guaranteed to always know what to say--no matter where you are. Italian word: scopabile Definition: f**kable, lit. sweepable Phrase: Niente male la tua suocera; anzi direi che e propio scopabile. Literal Translation: Your mother-in-law is not so bad looking; in fact she's quite f**kable.
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