links for 2010-10-31

November 1, 2010
  • <blockquote>"Language is mankind's greatest invention–except, of course, that it was never invented." So begins linguist Deutscher's investigation into the genesis and evolution of language. 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 degrees of meaning? Drawing on recent discoveries in linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication, giving us fresh insight into how language emerges, evolves, and decays. He traces the evolution of linguistic complexity from an early "Me Tarzan" stage to such elaborate single-word constructions as the Turkish sehirlilestiremediklerimizdensiniz ("you are one of those whom we couldn't turn into a town dweller"). He shows how the processes of destruction and creation are continuously in operation, generating new words, new structures, and new meanings.-From publisher</blockquote>
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