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The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest… (2005)

di Guy Deutscher

Altri autori: Vedi la sezione altri autori.

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1,0132715,028 (4.18)58
"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 description.… (altro)
Aggiunto di recente darevatait, biblioteca privata, Trevorjohara, ekrst, TechThing, Roberts-Ldn, essuniz
  1. 20
    The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language di John McWhorter (keristars)
    keristars: Great companion books - two perspectives of virtually the same thing. McWhorter's looks more at the sheer variety (or lack thereof) of languages, while Deutscher's looks at the complexity within a single language.
  2. 00
    The Seeds of Speech di Jean Aitchison (SomeGuyInVirginia)
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Inglese (24)  Tedesco (2)  Italiano (1)  Tutte le lingue (27)
Segnalato da Flavia Vendittelli
  Biblit | Apr 24, 2012 |
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» Aggiungi altri autori (1 potenziale)

Nome dell'autoreRuoloTipo di autoreOpera?Stato
Guy Deutscherautore primariotutte le edizionicalcolato
Fyfe, LisaProgetto della copertinaautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
Pfeiffer, MartinTraduttoreautore secondarioalcune edizioniconfermato
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For Janie

maṣṣar šulmim u balāṭim ina rēšiki ay ipparku
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Introduction
This Marvellous Invention'
Of all mankind's manifold creations, language must take pride of place. Other inventions – the wheel, agriculture, sliced bread – may have transformed our matreial existence, but the advent of language is what made us human. Compared to language, all other inventions pale in significance, since everything we have ever achieved depends on language and originates from it. Without language, we could never have embarked on our ascent to unparalleled power over all other animals, and even over nature itself.
I
A Castle in the AirC'est un langage estrange que le Basque
On dit qu'ils s'entendent, je n'en croy rien.

Basque is really a strange language . . .
It is said they understand one another,
but I don't believe any of it.

         Joseph Justus Scaliger (1540-1609)

Everyone knows that the words of a language, from its aardvarks to its zucchini, lend meaning to our utterances, and allow us to understand one another. And it is because foreign languages use so many strange words that we cannot understand them without years of labour. Even Joseph Scaliger, the most erudite scholar of his day, a polyglot not only fluent in Latin, Greek and most of the modern languages of Europe, but also self-taught in Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic and Persian, still had to give up on Basque, because it used completely different words for absolutely everything. The effort of memorizing many thousands of words so overwhelms our perception of what language learning is all about that it may easily lead to the impressions that knowing a language just comes down to knowing its words. Surely, if one could only recognize the meaning of each word, all one would need to do is add all these meanings up somehow, in order to grasp the sense of a whole sentence. But if this is so, and language ultimately amounts to just words, then isn't the quest for the origin of structure merely an intellectual wild goose chase?
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"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 description.

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