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Babel

ebook
"Babel is an endlessly interesting book, and you don't have to have any linguistic training to enjoy it . . . it's just so much fun to read." —NPR
English is the world language, except that 80 percent of the world doesn't speak it. Linguist Gaston Dorren calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world's people in their mother tongues, you'd need to know no fewer than twenty languages. In Babel, he sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Javanese, Bengali). Whisking readers along on a delightful journey, he traces how these languages rose to greatness while others fell away, and shows how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues.
Whether showcasing tongue-tying phonetics, elegant but complicated writing scripts, or mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs that seem as self-evident to those born into it as they are surprising to outsiders. Babel reveals why modern Turks can't read books that are a mere 75 years old, what it means in practice for Russian and English to be relatives, and how Japanese developed separate "dialects" for men and women. Dorren also shares his experiences studying Vietnamese in Hanoi, debunks ten myths about Chinese characters, and discovers the region where Swahili became the lingua franca. Witty and utterly fascinating, Babel will change how you look at and listen to the world.
"Word nerds of every strain will enjoy this wildly entertaining linguistic study." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Publisher: Grove Atlantic

Kindle Book

  • Release date: March 30, 2022

OverDrive Read

  • ISBN: 9780802146724
  • Release date: March 30, 2022

EPUB ebook

  • ISBN: 9780802146724
  • File size: 23583 KB
  • Release date: March 30, 2022

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Formats

Kindle Book
OverDrive Read
EPUB ebook

Languages

English

"Babel is an endlessly interesting book, and you don't have to have any linguistic training to enjoy it . . . it's just so much fun to read." —NPR
English is the world language, except that 80 percent of the world doesn't speak it. Linguist Gaston Dorren calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world's people in their mother tongues, you'd need to know no fewer than twenty languages. In Babel, he sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Javanese, Bengali). Whisking readers along on a delightful journey, he traces how these languages rose to greatness while others fell away, and shows how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues.
Whether showcasing tongue-tying phonetics, elegant but complicated writing scripts, or mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs that seem as self-evident to those born into it as they are surprising to outsiders. Babel reveals why modern Turks can't read books that are a mere 75 years old, what it means in practice for Russian and English to be relatives, and how Japanese developed separate "dialects" for men and women. Dorren also shares his experiences studying Vietnamese in Hanoi, debunks ten myths about Chinese characters, and discovers the region where Swahili became the lingua franca. Witty and utterly fascinating, Babel will change how you look at and listen to the world.
"Word nerds of every strain will enjoy this wildly entertaining linguistic study." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

Expand title description text