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A "fascinating" (The Economist) dive into the world of linguistics that is "part travelogue, part science lesson, part intellectual investigation...an entertaining, informative survey of some of the most fascinating polyglots of our time" (The New York Times Book Review).
We all learn at least one language as children. But what does it take to learn six languages...or seventy? In Babel No More, Michael Erard, "a monolingual with benefits," sets out on a quest to meet language superlearners and make sense of their mental powers. On the way he uncovers the secrets of historical figures like Italian cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, who was said to speak seventy-two languages; Emil Krebs, a pugnacious German diplomat, who spoke sixty-eight languages; and Lomb Kat, a Hungarian who taught herself Russian by reading Russian romance novels.
On his way to tracking down the man who could be called the most linguistically talented person in the world, Erard meets modern language-superlearners. Among them is Alexander, who shows Erard the tricks of the trade and gives him a dark glimpse into the life of obsessive language acquisition. "Others do yoga," writes Erard. "Alexander does grammatical exercises."
With his ambitious examination of what language is, where it lives in the brain, and the cultural implications of polyglots¿ pursuits, Erard explores the upper limits of our ability to learn and to use languages, illuminating the intellectual potential in everyone. How do some people escape the curse of Babel - and what might the gods have demanded of them in return?
Written with fun anecdotes in a detective style, the book was fascinating to read.
In his search for clues about how and why super language learners do what they do, Mr. Erard interviews an array of fascinating individuals.
I get the feeling that he didn't really listen to the people he interviewed and instead projected his own ideas onto them.
As an avid language learner, I find myself reflected in some of the characters in this book. It is great to see a combination of anecdotal evidence and some real studies that have... Read morePublished 29 days ago by W. Johnston
I read the hardcover version when it first came out. Fascinating... among many other things, it gives interesting descriptions of the things some people do to learn new languages,... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Ash
For those wanting to learn more than one language, or those interested in the people capable of learning many languages, this a well written book. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Daniel Thompson
One wonders how a book like this could possibly be written about a polymath one has never heard about before. A priest who mastered fluency in over 70 languages. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Dr.G.
Erard writes with an engaging and descriptive style. I love this book; it combines science, anecdotes, and observation which draw a brilliantly accurate picture of polyglottery.Published 5 months ago by Elisheva Offenbacher
Rather than a how-to guide or one person's theory on acquisition of foreign languages, this book is an exploration both of scientific research and anecdotal evidence of the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by C. J. Guleff
I read this book to see if I could find secrets of language learning and answers to why I couldn't learn as fast as I thought I should. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Booklover79
On reading this, it didn't impress me hugely, but over time it has stuck with me and given me a gut-level sense of understanding of these topics that I really appreciate. Read morePublished 12 months ago by Lisa