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on 4 September 2013
Can the language we speak influence the way we see the world? In other words, can reality change according to the language we use to perceive and describe it? As an Italian speaker talking both English and Spanish, I've always been fascinated by such a topic, and often asked myself to what extent language may determine the way we are and think. Guy Deutscher focused on this question, going back to the first brave attempts to pose it, till the very latest and newest experiments to answer it. His book is a very fascinating journey, able to arouse the interest in every kind of reader, but at the same time sticking to science and avoiding generalization and trivialization. At the end of it, you'll learn a lot about the way people make different use of colours, space expressions, and noun genders. You'll discover that culture may be very powerful indeed, and that things that look so natural to us are not that natural after all.
Absolutely recommended!
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on 1 December 2011
Certainly an interesting & accessible little book. However, as other reviewers have noted, I felt that several interesting topics (Colour nomenclature especially) were padded out with far too many historical anecdotes. Some promises in a sense were also not met. Does speaking German really imbue speakers with a sense of logic & those of French with a sense of romantic idealism. I'm also not sure if the basic "mould vs cloak" debate with regard to Saphir-Whorfism was really explored. It would also have been fascinating to have had some debate around the famous Wittgenstein quote that "The limits of language are the limits of my world" and thus where that leaves the whole range of ineffable sensory experiences that we all have. Then again no mention around the ideas expounded by Pinker & Fodor regarding "Mentalese" or the "language of thought". I personally certainly don't feel that I "think" in English, my mother tongue.

Maybe Guy Deutscher's NEXT book could address some of these issues??
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on 9 October 2015
Just as good as his first book.
Read it together with Jackendoff, "A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning", which I also recommend.
Just as good as Pinker's books, and much better than David Crystal, "How Language Works", although Crystal is good on phonetics.
Deutscher and Jackendoff are firmly non-Chomskian. They believe that children learn language through co-variance, and do
not suggest an internal inherited grammar exists, which is a belief that Chomsky still holds, according to his YouTube videos.
Deutscher has a short YouTube too.
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on 8 January 2017
I so enjoyed this book and like the author's "The Unfolding of Language" could not put it down. I could see everything in my mind's eye. It was as good as a thriller. However, I would have liked to see some discussion on how different languages might/might not shape perspectives on, say, gender/emotive/power issues--if only in the introduction. Recommended for the general reader--the chapters on colour in particular are fascinating as the stories unfold.
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on 20 May 2014
In terms of content, this is a fascinating, mind-blowing introduction to the ways in which language may affect our views of the world. the question of whether our mother tongue influences our thinking and perceptions is considered through questions of colour vocabulary, means of giving directions and grammatical gender. By far the largest portion of the book considers colour, and this is the most intriguing - I had certainly never questioned that "blue" is a concept that every language would have a word for, but it seems I was wrong. Each of the concepts is illustrated by examples and thought experiments, including a description of various scientific experiments which have attempted to prove links between language and other areas of brain function.

Unfortunately, although the topic, examples etc are intriguing, the style is annoying. The author seems to subscribe to the view that one sentence is never enough - he can use pages to cover what could be expressed just as well in one paragraph. There is also a sneering tone which creeps in at many points, which is frankly annoying.

The book could undoubtedly be both shorter and less annoying if written in a different style. However, I would recommend reading it for the insights it gives into the world, and the preconceptions about what is "normal" that it challenges.
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on 24 May 2016
I am fascinated! For anyone interested in how language(s) behave and why, it is informative and also great fun. A good few laughs on the way. The text is not difficult, with only a few jaw-breakers that will mean something to academics, but not the ordinary reader. You can safely leave them unexplained as the text does it for you.
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on 22 January 2018
Scholarly and entertaining, If languages, linguistics and or philology are your tipple, then do buy this. Illuminating and rewarding. A great book.
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on 2 September 2014
Absolutely fascinating analysis of the nature of language. Concentrates mainly on the history of the perception of colour, starting from the fact that Ancient Greece seems to have fewer words for colour than exist in modern languages, and investigates why this should be so. Also an interesting chapter on 'sex and syntax' why different languages have different gender concepts.
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on 8 May 2017
Not completely wide ranging. Tends to focus on a few aspects in rigorous detail. Very readable. Well researched and quite amusing. Great bog book for linguists, philosophers, language teachers and anyone interested in how language may shape our reality on a very visceral level. Good for a gift.
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on 15 April 2016
An unusual look at how language influences thought and vice-versa.
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