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The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages Paperback – October 17, 1985
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“Rewarding and delightful . . . for everyone who has the slightest curiosity or ambition in self expression, this is a book that contains months or years of pleasurable profit.”
- Christopher Morley
“Makes language study more hopeful and exciting than anything I have read before.”
- Lewis Gannett
From the Back Cover
Here is an informative introduction to language: its origins in the past, its growth through history, and its present use for communication between peoples. It is at the same time a history of language, a guide to foreign tongues, and a method for learning them. It shows, through basic vocabularies, family resemblances of languages -- Teutonic, Romance, Greek -- helpful tricks of translation, key combinations of roots and phonetic patterns. It presents by common-sense methods the most helpful approach to the mastery of many languages; it condenses vocabulary to a minimum of essential words; it simplifies grammar in an entirely new way; and it teaches a language as it is actually used in everyday life.
Top customer reviews
If one fault could be listed with The Loom of Languages it would be that a muddy xenophobia trickles into some of the chapter as witnessed by this comment concerning the lack of Greek and Latin language influence in the Eastern Europe of antiquity: "The comparatively late appearance of loan words in the Slavonic lexicon faithfully reflects this retardation of culture contact with more progressive communities (page 419)."
Modern day readers unaccustomed to the cultural proclivities of earlier linguists and anthropologists may find the repetitive use of words like "Aryan" or "high culture" unsettling. That said, the nitty-gritty of the data (with a few exceptions) in The Loom of Languages remains unadulterated and essentially informative. Recent discoveries by linguists and anthropologists now contradict some of TLOL findings, but not enough to undermine the goals of the book. A highly recommended book for budding linguists or those with a curiosity about the link between language and history.
Essentially Mr. Bodmer states that all of the current proposals for an international language are flawed but "Novial" is the best among them. However, its flaws are that it doesn't take into account the predominance of Greek roots comming into common usage through scientific terminology, not Latin roots that many of the other attempts use. It doesn't respect the widespread knowledge about English even in Asia and neglects the need for a simplified lexicography. He cites "Basic English" as a natural starting point which contains the main 850 words in English used to define all the others.
If a person wanted to get a head start learning the international language of the future. They probably wouldn't be too far off if they studied Greek roots which are easily recognized by native English speakers first such as "haema" for "blood" as in the word hemoglobin. And only the words from the list of the basic 850. Then studied only the Latin roots easily recognized by native English speakers such as "Omni" for "all." Finally, study the simplified spelling and grammar of Novial.
If nothing else, this book will give people a greater understanding of languages in general and perhaps help them speak or write more effectively in any language, even their mother tongue.