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A History of Language (Globalities) Hardcover – 11 Nov 1999

4.3 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books (11 Nov. 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861890516
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861890511
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 14 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,850,679 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

‘[a] delightful and unexpectedly accessible book … a virtuoso tour of the linguistic world’ -- The Economist

About the Author

Steven Roger Fischer is Director of the Institute of Polynesian Languages and Literatures in Auckland, New Zealand. He is the author of A History of Writing, A History of Reading and Island at the End of the World: The Turbulent History of Easter Island, all available from Reaktion Books.


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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I cannot praise this book enough. It is remarkably readable, concise, accurate and informative. Laid out in a very accessible format, it charts the principal theories of the evolution of language in its spoken and written forms. Fischer's sections on the development of modern alphabets and the historical study of language in different cultures are particularly fascinating. This book will provide a wealth of invaluable information for student linguists, and a fascinating introduction to the discipline for any interested reader. The work counts no less than Chomsky among its many admirers.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A fascinating and well-rounded book!

I aspire to be a multi-linguist, and reading this book has really improved my acquisition and ability to communicate in foreign languages.... even though it's a history book and has nothing to do with the actual learning of a foreign language. Dispelling myths about the origins of language, connecting the evolutionary dots and getting back to the fundamental reason why language exists (to communicate) has been inspirational as well as helpful.

My only wish is that the middle was as flowing and enjoyable to read as the beginning and end.... it would then be the perfect book.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I really enjoyed this book, and I don't know of another one that covers the same ground.

It starts off with the origins of language in the animal world, and the various speculations as to its beginnings with humans. It goes on to relate how language families evolve, giving some fascinating insights into the relationships between them, and outlines the development of writing systems. The author has particularly interesting observations on how languages change over time. There are chapters on the discipline of linguistics and on social aspects of language, computer languages and language extinctions. All this in 220 pages is quite an achievement.

I admit I have a background in linguistics, and it might be a bit harder going for a reader who has none at all, but I would call it a comparatively easy read, in a very informal style and well worth the effort - if any is needed - to follow the arguments and digest the information it contains.
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