9780199263417 / 0199263418

Speak: A Short History of Languages


Publisher:Oxford University Press, USA



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About the book:

Tore Janson is a Swedish linguistic scholar who has studied and worked much in the USA. To the surprise of the sceptical, he manages to make the history of language interesting in Speak, a well written and solidly researched little book. He begins with a study of the most basic communication skills, proceeds to theorise how language developed and then traces written language and the fascinating family tree of linguistic development down through history and around the world to the present day pre-eminence of English. The book is complete with six maps tracing world linguistic development as well as helpful tables and charts that compare languages. Anyone who has taken an interest in language or has seriously tried to learn a foreign language will be interested.

Maybe Oxford University Press have published Speak in an attempt to cash in on the ongoing enthusiasm for JRR Tolkien, philologist and Oxford don, by making linguistic history interesting and available to a wide audience. However, readers should not be deceived by the attractive cover, catchy title and small format. This is a serious, detailed study that will require some effort. That effort will be rewarded though with a greater appreciation and understanding for the unique human gift of language. --Dwight Longenecker

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