Don't Believe A Word: The Surprising Truth About Language (Hardback)David Shariatmadari (author)
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An eye-opening explanation of why we don’t know nearly as much about language as we think we do. Tackling a number of perceived truths about linguistics, Shariatmadari probes the science of the discipline and unearths some truly astonishing facts about the principles of language and how they shift and adapt over time.
Everyone likes to think they know a bit about language:
There's a term in Portuguese you simply can't translate
The origin of a word tells you how it should be used
Standards of grammar have taken a nosedive recently
The real meaning of 'disinterested' is 'unbiased'
Computers will soon be able to speak like human beings
A dialect is inferior to a language
The problem is, none of these statements is true.
Over the past few decades, we have reached new frontiers of linguistic knowledge. Linguists can now explain how and why language changes, describe its structures, and map its activity in the brain. But most of us know as much about language today as we did about physics before Galileo, and the little we know is still largely based on folklore, instinct or hearsay.
In Don't Believe a Word linguist David Shariatmadari takes us on a mind-boggling journey through the science of language, urging us to abandon our prejudices in a bid to uncover the (far more interesting) truth about what we do with words. Exploding nine widely-held myths about language while introducing us to some of the fundamental insights of modern linguistics, David Shariatmadari is an energetic guide to the beauty and quirkiness of humanity's greatest achievement.
Publisher: Orion Publishing Co
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 440 g
Dimensions: 220 x 142 x 36 mm
'Wonderful. David Shariatmadari wears his deep learning with such an admirable and alluring lightness of touch. He brilliantly swats away the pesky 'language guardian' flies, whose misbegotten pedantries and ignorant persnicketiness are the real threats to living language. You finish the book more alive than ever to the enduring mystery and miracle of that thing that makes us most human, the gift of language that was bestowed upon us so astonishingly recently in evolutionary time and that has made us everything that we are ... for good or ill' - Stephen Fry
'David Shariatmadari translates the often arcane theories of linguistics into a sequence of accessible ideas and theories, making us look afresh at the language we speak and how it structures our intimacies, our thoughts, and our identities. Wry and immensely intelligent, this learned book awakens us to complexities of communication that we too readily ignore, and it does so with both deep scholarship and a light touch' - Andrew Solomon
'Completely fascinating and eye-opening. David Shariatmadari is warm, wise and wonderfully steeped in his subject - the perfect guide to the brilliantly strange world of language' - Marina Hyde
'A skilful summation of the latest research on how languages emerge, change, convey meaning and influence how we think... a meaty, rewarding and necessary read' - The Guardian