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The Power of Babel: A Natural History of Language Paperback – Illustrated, January 1, 2003
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About the Author
John McWhorter, associate professor of linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of The Word on the Street. He lives in Oakland, California.
- Item Weight : 9.3 ounces
- Paperback : 350 pages
- ISBN-10 : 006052085X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0060520854
- Dimensions : 5.31 x 0.79 x 8 inches
- Publisher : Harper Perennial; Softcover Edition (January 1, 2003)
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #27,615 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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My unseen mentor became Mario Pei, who understood as I did that a true master of any craft can teach complex concepts with imaginative simplicity and metaphor without any condescension of superiority.
It is frustrating when you discover someone like John McWhorter: a person I wish to have met in youth since he shared all my interests.
Nonetheless, as Carl Sagan made science entertaining and accessible - a role now fulfilled by Neil deGrasse Tyson - John McWhorter (in my opinion) is the perfect successor after the loss of Mario Pei. He does not adhere to the orthodoxy of the intelligentsia (1st person I read who agreed with the Celtic influence on English and the importance of slang and creoles).
His personality engages the listener with a self-deprecating humor, charming and funny. The best review I might leave is that I hope his legacy is as respected as Mr. Pei's.
While I enjoyed the book, I have two negative issues: first, the book is repetitive, repetitive, repetitive. The same points over and over again when it just wasn't necessary because the concepts are not that difficult. In addition, some of the examples used to were too detailed and too lengthy for the book's intended audience.
The second thing that I found a little annoying about the book is that it is filled with footnotes and asides that I'm sure the author meant to be entertaining, but they frequently came across as glib and self serving. It was as if the author was imitating David Foster Wallace - but the author is not David Foster Wallace.
All in all, it's a good book and worth reading, but if you stop reading after chapter 4 (about half way) you won't miss much.
Top reviews from other countries
Dieses Buch ist populärwissenschaftlich im besten Sinn und kann uneingeschränkt empfohlen werden.