The Power Of Babel

Author: John McWhorter
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 144647240X
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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There can be few subjects of such widespread interest and fascination to anyone who reads as the strange ways of languages. In this wonderfully entertaining and fascinating book, John McWhorter introduces us to 'the natural history of language': from Russonorsk, a creole of Russian and Norwegian once spoken by trading fur trappers to an Australian Aboriginal language which only has three verbs. Witty, brilliant and authoritative, this book is a must for anyone who is interested in language, as sheerly enjoyable as non-fiction gets.

The Power of Babel

Author: John McWhorter
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 006052085X
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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There are approximately six thousand languages on Earth today, each a descendant of the tongue first spoken by Homo sapiens some 150,000 years ago. While laying out how languages mix and mutate over time, linguistics professor John McWhorter reminds us of the variety within the species that speaks them, and argues that, contrary to popular perception, language is not immutable and hidebound, but a living, dynamic entity that adapts itself to an ever-changing human environment. Full of humor and imaginative insight, The Power of Babel draws its illustrative examples from languages around the world, including pidgins, Creoles, and nonstandard dialects.

The Power of Babel

Author: John H. McWhorter
Publisher: Vintage
ISBN: 9780099435242
Format: PDF, Kindle
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"There can be few subjects of such widespread interest and fascination to anyone who reads as the strange ways of languages. In this wonderfully entertaining and fascinating book, John McWhorter introduces us to the natural history of language: from Russonorsk, a creole of Russian and Norwegian once spoken by trading fur trappers to an Australian Aboriganal language which only has three verbs. Witty, brilliant and authorative, this book is a must for anyone who is interested in language, as sheerly enjoyable as non-fiction gets.

What Language Is

Author: John McWhorter
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 1101644451
Format: PDF, Kindle
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New York Times bestselling author and renowned linguist, John McWhorter, explores the complicated and fascinating world of languages. From Standard English to Black English; obscure tongues only spoken by a few thousand people in the world to the big ones like Mandarin - What Language Is celebrates the history and curiosities of languages around the world and smashes our assumptions about "correct" grammar. An eye-opening tour for all language lovers, What Language Is offers a fascinating new perspective on the way humans communicate. From vanishing languages spoken by a few hundred people to major tongues like Chinese, with copious revelations about the hodgepodge nature of English, John McWhorter shows readers how to see and hear languages as a linguist does. Packed with Big Ideas about language alongside wonderful trivia, What Language Is explains how languages across the globe (the Queen's English and Surinam creoles alike) originate, evolve, multiply, and divide. Raising provocative questions about what qualifies as a language (so-called slang does have structured grammar), McWhorter also takes readers on a marvelous journey through time and place-from Persian to the languages of Sri Lanka- to deliver a feast of facts about the wonders of human linguistic expression.

Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue

Author: John McWhorter
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 1592404944
Format: PDF, ePub, Docs
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A survey of the English language's usage mysteries considers the ways in which English developed and how it may reflect cultural values, in a reference that covers such topics as Celtic and Welsh influences, the origins of specific syntax patterns, and the role of language in forming early Britain. 25,000 first printing.

Doing Our Own Thing

Author: John McWhorter
Publisher: Random House
ISBN: 1446473228
Format: PDF, Docs
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Once languages become written, they change. Only in writing does language develop the artfulness and richness that we associate with a Shakespeare, a Proust or a Whitman. Yet over the last forty years, the English-language has effectively gone into reverse - taking our lead from America and the legacy of the 1960s, our culture increasingly privileges the oral over the written, spurning the art of elaborated, 'written'-style language in favour of returning to the state of a spoken culture. Parallel developments have occurred in music. In this controversial and thought-provoking book, John McWhorter argues that the 1960's rejection of cultural traits associated with the Establishment, as well as a democratic celebration of what anyone can do over what requires training or talent, has led to our culture being increasingly impoverished, both intellectually and artistically...

The Language Hoax

Author: John H. McWhorter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 0199361606
Format: PDF
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Japanese has a term that covers both green and blue. Russian has separate terms for dark and light blue. Does this mean that Russians perceive these colors differently from Japanese people? Does language control and limit the way we think? This short, opinionated book addresses the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, which argues that the language we speak shapes the way we perceive the world. Linguist John McWhorter argues that while this idea is mesmerizing, it is plainly wrong. It is language that reflects culture and worldview, not the other way around. The fact that a language has only one word for eat, drink, and smoke doesn't mean its speakers don't process the difference between food and beverage, and those who use the same word for blue and green perceive those two colors just as vividly as others do. McWhorter shows not only how the idea of language as a lens fails but also why we want so badly to believe it: we're eager to celebrate diversity by acknowledging the intelligence of peoples who may not think like we do. Though well-intentioned, our belief in this idea poses an obstacle to a better understanding of human nature and even trivializes the people we seek to celebrate. The reality -- that all humans think alike -- provides another, better way for us to acknowledge the intelligence of all peoples.

Defining Creole

Author: John H. McWhorter
Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780195347234
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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A conventional wisdom among creolists is that creole is a sociohistorical term only: that creole languages share a particular history entailing adults rapidly acquiring a language usually under conditions of subordination, but that structurally they are indistinguishable from other languages. The articles by John H. McWhorter collected in this volume demonstrate that this is in fact untrue. Creole languages, while complex and nuanced as all human languages are, are delineable from older languages as the result of their having come into existence only a few centuries ago. Then adults learn a language under untutored conditions, they abbreviate its structure, focusing upon features vital to communication and shaving away most of the features useless to communication that bedevil those acquiring the language non-natively. When they utilize their rendition of the language consistently enough to create a brand-new one, this new creation naturally evinces evidence of its youth: specifically, a much lower degree of the random accretions typical in older languages, which only develop over vast periods of time. The articles constitute a case for this thesis based on both broad, cross-creole ranges of data and focused expositions referring to single creole languages. The book presents a general case for a theory of language contact and creolization in which not only transfer from source languages but also structural reduction plays a central role, based on facts whose marginality of address in creole studies has arisen from issues sociopolitical as well as scientific. For several decades the very definition of the term creole has been elusive even among creole specialists. This book attempts to forge a path beyond the inter- and intra-disciplinary misunderstandings and stalemates that have resulted from this, and to demonstrate the place that creoles might occupy in other linguistic subfields, including typology, language contact, and syntactic theory.

Empires of the Word

Author: Nicholas Ostler
Publisher: Harper Collins
ISBN: 9780062047359
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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Nicholas Ostler's Empires of the Word is the first history of the world's great tongues, gloriously celebrating the wonder of words that binds communities together and makes possible both the living of a common history and the telling of it. From the uncanny resilience of Chinese through twenty centuries of invasions to the engaging self-regard of Greek and to the struggles that gave birth to the languages of modern Europe, these epic achievements and more are brilliantly explored, as are the fascinating failures of once "universal" languages. A splendid, authoritative, and remarkable work, it demonstrates how the language history of the world eloquently reveals the real character of our planet's diverse peoples and prepares us for a linguistic future full of surprises.

Authentically Black

Author: John McWhorter
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 9781101216583
Format: PDF, ePub
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The critically acclaimed book from the bestselling author of Losing the Race and The Power of Babel John McWhorter is one of the most original and provocative thinkers on the issue of race in America today. In Authentically Black McWhorter argues that although African-Americans stress hard work and initiative in private, they have assumed the mantle of victimhood in the eyes of the public and have thereby created a distorted meaning of what it is to be "authentically black." McWhorter takes on this mentality and its debilitating implications—in topics ranging from rap music to the reparations movement, to the portrayal of African-Americans on television to racial profiling— injecting new ideas and a fresh approach into the nationwide debate on race. Authentically Black is a powerful and important book that will inform and influence the opinions of Americans across all racial and political spectra.