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5.0 out of 5 stars The most accessible of Mr Bickerton's books, autobiographical in ...
The most accessible of Mr Bickerton's books, autobiographical in tone. Essential for anyone with an interest in the development of creole and patois (as are his other works - not many people take on Chomsky!)
Published 7 months ago by Bob Jones

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the book I was expecting
I expected this book to be mainly about pidgins and creoles. In fact it is the story of how our feisty, hard-drinking hero turns himself into a linguist, travels the world examining creoles, creates a new theory about creoles and pokes the linguistic establishment in the eye. The histories and characteristics of pidgins and creoles emerge piecemeal, when used as...
Published on 29 Jun 2012 by Jon


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the book I was expecting, 29 Jun 2012
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Jon (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bastard Tongues: A Trail-Blazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World's Lowliest Languages (Paperback)
I expected this book to be mainly about pidgins and creoles. In fact it is the story of how our feisty, hard-drinking hero turns himself into a linguist, travels the world examining creoles, creates a new theory about creoles and pokes the linguistic establishment in the eye. The histories and characteristics of pidgins and creoles emerge piecemeal, when used as ammunition in Bickerton's feuds with other academics. There is no synthesis. I'm all for authors enlivening their texts with background and anecdote, but here the balance is wrong, more about academic infighting than the subject in the title.

For a linguist, Bickerton has a surprisingly tin ear for language. He tells us how, when working at Lancaster University and seeking to belittle the vice-chancellor, he produces a brochure from a Washington conference where Bickerton's affiliation is shown as 'University of Lancaster, England': "Look," I said, "people over there have never even heard of you. They have to be told where your university is." But hasn't Bickerton heard Americans talk about 'Paris, France'? They do this for a good reason: there are multiple Parises and Lancasters in the USA itself. Also, he uses the phrase 'creating a grammar from ground zero', where most people would write 'from the ground up'. 'Ground zero' was originally used to designate the exact point where the atom bomb fell in Hiroshima, then later to refer to the location of the World Trade Center after its destruction - not the image Bickerton was intending.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The most accessible of Mr Bickerton's books, autobiographical in ..., 26 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Bastard Tongues: A Trail-Blazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World's Lowliest Languages (Paperback)
The most accessible of Mr Bickerton's books, autobiographical in tone. Essential for anyone with an interest in the development of creole and patois (as are his other works - not many people take on Chomsky!)
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5.0 out of 5 stars On our capacity for language, 8 May 2011
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Jens Guld (Denmark) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bastard Tongues: A Trail-Blazing Linguist Finds Clues to Our Common Humanity in the World's Lowliest Languages (Paperback)
A very good read.
Since Medieval times it has been debated whether we have language ability built-in or not.
Since Chomsky the built-in'ers have had the advantage. This book is about the pidgins that are created, so that people without a common language can communicate, and the creoles which are complete languages created by the the next generation.
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