Start reading Through the Language Glass on the free Kindle Reading App or on your Kindle in under a minute. Don't have a Kindle? Get your Kindle here.

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Enter a promotion code
or gift card
 
 
 

Try it free

Sample the beginning of this book for free

Deliver to your Kindle or other device

Sorry, this item is not available in
Image not available for
Color:
Image not available

To view this video download Flash Player

 

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages [Kindle Edition]

Guy Deutscher
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $19.00
Kindle Price: $8.89
You Save: $10.11 (53%)
Sold by: Macmillan

Free Kindle Reading App Anybody can read Kindle books—even without a Kindle device—with the FREE Kindle app for smartphones, tablets and computers.

To get the free app, enter your email address or mobile phone number.

Formats

Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle Edition $8.89  
Hardcover --  
Paperback $13.57  
Holiday Deals in Books
Holiday Deals in Books
Find deals for every reader in the Holiday Deals in Books store, featuring savings of up to 50% on cookbooks, children's books, literature & fiction, and more.

Book Description

A masterpiece of linguistics scholarship, at once erudite and entertaining, confronts the thorny question of how—and whether—culture shapes language and language, culture

Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers: too much simplistic (even bigoted) chatter about the romance of Italian and the goose-stepping orderliness of German has made serious thinkers wary of the entire subject. But now, acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher has dared to reopen the issue. Can culture influence language—and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Could our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for "blue"?

Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are hard-wired in our genes and thus universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is—yes. In thrilling fashion, he takes us from Homer to Darwin, from Yale to the Amazon, from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water—a "she"—becomes a "he" once you dip a tea bag into her, demonstrating that language does in fact reflect culture in ways that are anything but trivial. Audacious, delightful, and field-changing, Through the Language Glass is a classic of intellectual discovery.




Editorial Reviews

Review

The New York Times “Editor’s Choice”
The Economist “Best Books of 2010”
• Financial Times “Best Books of 2010”
Library Journal “Best Books of 2010”
 
“Fascinating reading.… Deutscher does not merely weave little-known facts into an absorbing story. He also takes account of the vast changes in our perceptions of other races and cultures over the past two centuries.”
— Derek Bickerton, The New York Times Book Review
 
“An informative, pleasurable read… A gifted writer, Deutscher picks his way nimbly past overblown arguments to a sensible compromise.”
—Amanda Katz, The Boston Globe
 
“A thrilling and challenging ride.”
— Christopher Schoppa, The Washington Post
 
“Brilliantly surveys the differences words and grammar make between cultures.”
—Carlin Romano, The Chronicle of Higher Education
 
“A most entertaining book, easy to read but packed with fascinating detail.”
—Michael Quinion, World Wide Words
 
Through The Language Glass is so robustly researched and wonderfully told that it is hard to put down… Deutscher brings together more than a century’s worth of captivating characters, incidents, and experiments that illuminate the relationship between words and mind… He makes a convincing case for the influence of language on thought, and in doing so he reveals as much about the way color words shape our perception as about the way that scientific dogma and fashion can blind us.”
— Christine Kenneally, New Scientist </...

About the Author

Guy Deutscher is the author of The Unfolding of Language: The Evolution of Mankind's Greatest Invention. Formerly a Fellow of St John's College, Cambridge, and of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages in the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, he is an honorary Research Fellow at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures in the University of Manchester. Through the Language Glass is his third book. He lives in Oxford with his wife and two daughters.

Product Details

  • File Size: 955 KB
  • Print Length: 308 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0099505576
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books (August 31, 2010)
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00403MO0M
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #114,134 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
  •  Would you like to give feedback on images?


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
115 of 121 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through Wine-Tinted Glasses August 31, 2010
Format:Hardcover
In some cultures, there is a single word that denotes both blue and green. The people in these cultures can see the difference between the colors as well as anyone else, but they don't consider blue and green different colors, just different shades of the same color. In Russian, there is a word for dark blue and another word for sky blue. We who did not grow up speaking Russian do not confuse dark blue and light blue any more than Russians do, even if we call them both "blue."

How a language deals with colors is just one of the ways that linguist Guy Deutscher examines the interplay between language and thought. For many years, it was THE controversy in linguistic circles. But even if the phrases "Sapir-Whorf" and "Chomskian grammar" do not make you see red or any other color, you will find Deutscher's investigations into how language affects thought and vice versa, fascinating and enlightening.

He discusses why, in the Iliad, Homer described both the sea and oxen as being "wine-colored." He describes a society in which the people use points of the compass to describe locations rather than "left" and "right," and how that affects their sense of place.

Through the Language Glass had me seriously questioning what I thought I knew about language. Deutscher challenges conventional linguistic theories and seems to have a great time doing it. Through the Language Glass is the kind of book that you want to share with everyone and find out what they think about it, too. Is Deutscher crazy? Is he brilliant? Both, probably.

Also recommended -- When Languages Die: The Extinction of the World's Languages and the Erosion of Human Knowledge by K. David Harrison, and Harrison's documentary, The Linguists.
Was this review helpful to you?
112 of 122 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The first foreign language I learned to complete fluency was German - after five years of high school German I spent a year at a German boys' boarding school. At the end of that year I was completely fluent, but noticed an odd phenomenon, that I felt like a slightly different person when I spoke German than when speaking English. Since then I've also learned Spanish to a high degree of fluency, and the same observation holds. In both cases, the main difference that I perceive has to do with humor, and the way the language I'm speaking affects my sense of humor. So I've always been interested in the extent to which language affects thought. The notion that it does is what linguists refer to as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. Belief in Sapir-Whorf reached its peak in the first half of the 20th century, but since then the notion that language affects cognition has been discredited by almost all mainstream linguists.

In "Through the Language Glass" Guy Deutscher mounts a careful, very limited defence of the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis. He considers three major areas - the link between language and color perception, how different languages deal with spatial orientation, and the phenomenon of differences in noun genders across different languages. His examination of the link between language and color perception is extensive and thought-provoking - he traces the development of linguistic theory on color perception from British prime minister Gladstone's commentary on the relative paucity of color terms in Homer's work, through the Berlin-Kay model (stating essentially that languages all tend to split up the color spectrum in similar ways) through very recent experiments suggesting that the existence of a particular color distinction in a language (e.g.
Read more ›
Was this review helpful to you?
50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Kindle Users Beware!! December 17, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Overall this is an excellent and informative discussion of how language influences thought, and I enjoyed reading it. Unfortunately for Kindle readers, Mr. Deutscher dedicates a significant portion of the analysis to the words and perceptions of color. There are numerous references to colors in charts and diagrams that are undoubtedly easily viewed in the printed version of the book, but are either recreated in black and white or totally absent from the Kindle version. (The Kindle for Mac view does not compensate.) Had I known this, I would have refrained from buying the e-reader edition, and would have purchased the hard cover book instead. I assign an average rating of three stars as a blended evaluation; the text itself I would rate five stars; the Kindle version gets one.
Was this review helpful to you?
23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
An exploration of the cultural influence of language on individual perception of the world--nurture versus nature through the lens of the mother tongue.

Pros:
An interesting premise made more credible given today's (and tomorrow's) brain technology. Provides many jumping off points for further exploration. The author has the courage to explore an area 'too hot' for many and does an adequate job of showing a safe way forward. The book is at its best when the author provided fascinating examples of vocabulary and syntax from a variety of languages.

Cons:
The book becomes a tedious read as the author repeats, repeats, repeats himself to ensure enough distance from Whorfianism to avoid a backlash from the "baggage of intellectual history". A lot of build-up to each finding with not enough fanfare when he finally gets to the point. No real summary of findings to pull it all together.

Because you may miss it in the book, here is the main finding: in most areas, causation between language and perception is unfounded; however, a compelling case can be made in three very specific areas:
~ Spatial thinking - p. 193
~ Gender - p. 214
~ Color (as in rainbow, not race) - p. 231

With potential causation in two additional areas:
~ Plurality - p 236
~ Evidentiality - p. 236
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A funny read that manages to be intelligent without being...
As an anthropology major, I definitely found this an interesting read if not just to have something to do on the train or between classes. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Jackie
5.0 out of 5 stars Super! For anyone interested in languages
Super! For anyone interested in languages.
Published 1 month ago by Victoria M. Robertson
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny yet profound discussion of if and in what way does language...
I enjoyed this book very much. I like Deutscher's easy writing style, at times funny to get me laughing out loud, while dealing with interesting issues of perception and language. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Ronny
5.0 out of 5 stars Unflagging telling, and unfailing interest, to those intrigued by...
If you be a lover or interested in language, you will not find a more entertaining or informing book on language, published in recent years. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Dr.G.
5.0 out of 5 stars Very convincing research on language and thought based on analysis ...
Very convincing research on language and thought based on analysis of color, space, and sex in different cultures. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Olga Shabalina
5.0 out of 5 stars Look at the world differently
Fascinating and illuminating. I learned so many things about a wide variety of languages and their similarities and dissimilarities. The writing is amusing and approachable.
Published 6 months ago by A. A. Baldwin
3.0 out of 5 stars But where is the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis we know and love?
This is a well-written and informative book, a pleasant read. But, if you are interested in the Sapir-Whorf Hypothesis, it is a great disappointment. Read more
Published 7 months ago by John E. Clifford
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read !
An incredible author. Be sure to Google "Intermezzo with Arik, Alma Deutscher" — his daughter (a musical prodigy) is mentioned in his discussions about language.
Published 8 months ago by William O. Bank
5.0 out of 5 stars Great ONLY if you have Kindle Fire
This is a tremendous book full of insight into language, grammar and its relation to culture. Many of Noam Chomsky's generally accepted ideas are put to the test. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Huron Ohio reader
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gift
Bought this as a gift. Recommended as a stand alone or even as part of a collection of language books. Bought at a reasonable price.
Published 11 months ago by Tony
Search Customer Reviews
Search these reviews only

More About the Author

Discover books, learn about writers, read author blogs, and more.

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?


Forums

There are no discussions about this product yet.
Be the first to discuss this product with the community.
Start a new discussion
Topic:
First post:
Prompts for sign-in
 


Look for Similar Items by Category