How Language Works

How Language Works

How Babies Babble, Words Change Meaning, And Languages Live Or Die

Book - 2006
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"This book is not about music, cookery, or sex. But it is about how we talk about music, cookery, and sex--or, indeed, anything at all." Language is so fundamental to everyday life that we take it for granted. But as linguist Crystal makes clear, language is an extremely powerful tool that defines the human species. Crystal offers general readers a personal tour of the intricate workings of language. He moves effortlessly from big subjects like the origins of languages, how children learn to speak, and how conversation works to subtle but revealing points such as how email differs from both speech and writing in important ways, how language reveals a person's social status, and how we decide whether a word is rude or polite. Broad and deep, but with a light and witty touch, this is a layman's guide to how we communicate with one another.--From publisher description.
Publisher: Woodstock, NY : Overlook Press, 2006.
ISBN: 9781585678488
Characteristics: xii, 500 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.


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Jan 23, 2018

This is an extraordinarily well structured book. Even the paragraphs and sentences are structured and ordered to perfection, whilst still being able to be read with ease. There are so many interesting points about it that if I were to point them out I would simply be regurgitating most of the table of contents (the parts that didn't interest me much had to do with developmental linguistics (how babies and children learn language)). The last chapters about language management, as well as those dealing with semantics were the most interesting, whilst the ones about phonetics were the most difficult to understand (one should look for audio files on the web to get a better sense of the clicks and of vowel tones: the printed page is forever silent). The bibliography was too brief.

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