Saturday, 10 August 2013

Guy Deutscher, 'Through the Language Glass'

This is a readable book about language non-linguists would probably like. You could call it popular science. Or  you could just call it readable and enjoyable. Its author reminds us several times that his own first language is not English (I believe it is Hebrew) but it is not translated. Either the author has a perfect command of English, which is highly likely, or he has a brilliant editor (which is also likely). I want people to know about this book, which was first published in 2010 (and which reminds us that the Sapir-Whorf thesis no longer holds good, as I am sure readers are aware). You can get it here.

I can't really do better than publish my short review first posted on Goodreads (a terrific book-sharing app by the way, and no, nobody is paying me to write this stuff, though I'm open to offers), so here it is.

Entertaining and erudite, this book takes you on a gallop through the myths about language and how they have been exploded, and makes you think just a bit differently. I picked it up by chance when I saw on Goodreads that someone I knew was reading it, and I'm very glad I did. Things you thought you knew... I always thought Homer called the sea "wine-dark" because he was blind and didn't know what colours were, because after all the sea can look a number of colours, but dark red is never one of them. But I was wrong. Put simply, Deutscher stands up the controversial notion that language shapes the way we think.

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