The Unfolding of Language

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Cover Art for 9780434011551, The Unfolding of Language by Guy Deutscher
ISBN: 9780434011551
Publisher: William Heinemann
Published: 5 May, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Links Australian Libraries (Trove)
Editions:
4 other editions of this product

Blending the spirit of Bill Bryson’sMother Tonguewith the science of Steven Pinker’sThe Language Instinct,The Unfolding of Languageis a remarkably original inquiry into the development of that most essential — and mysterious — of human creations: language. ‘Language is mankind’s greatest invention — except of course, that it was never invented.’ So begins this enthralling investigation into the evolution of language. Given that no-one sits down to design languages, how did there come to be so many, and of such elaborate design? 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 shades of meaning? Drawing on recent, groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication, giving us fresh insight into how language is formed, evolves, and decays. He traces the emergence of linguistic complexity from an early evolutionary ‘Me Tarzan’ stage to the astonishing power of languages today, with their capacity to express even the subtlest thoughts and ideas. From the written records of lost civilizations to the spoken idiom of today’s streets, we move from ancient Babylonian through medieval French to the English of the present. We marvel at the staggering triumph of design that is the Semitic verb, puzzle over single words that can express highly elaborate sentiments, and learn how great changes of pronunciation may result from simple laziness. Through the dramatic story ofThe Unfolding of Language, we discover the genius behind a uniquely human faculty.

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