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118 of 124 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Through Wine-Tinted Glasses, August 31, 2010
This review is from: Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages (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.
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Sep 7, 2010 1:05:27 PM PDT
Ulysses says:
I just read the Sunday NY Times Book Review and obviously your pick of color blue discussion inspired the writer...Great book, especially for people with talent for many languages to speak.

Posted on Oct 13, 2010 1:22:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Dec 4, 2010 12:01:30 PM PST
Karen Grant says:
Hi, Susan! The dedicated bibliomaniac! Excellent book! Excellent review!

I would like to share with you the interesting book, Learning Chinese The Easy Way: Read & Understand The Symbols of Chinese Culture.

Posted on Dec 21, 2010 2:58:38 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 15, 2011 3:03:55 AM PST
"... how language affects thought and vice versa ..." This is a very interesting topic!

Excellent review!

- author Sam
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Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

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