Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages 1st Edition
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“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
“Entertainingly written and thought-provoking… Deutscher has a talent for making scientific history read like an engrossing adventure… I recommend this intelligent and engaging book to anyone seeking an introduction to the relationship between language, thought, and culture.” ―Margery Lucas, PsycCritiques
“This fabulously interesting book describes an area of intellectual history replete with brilliant leaps of intuition and crazy dead-ends. Guy Deutscher, who combines enthusiasm with scholarly pugnacity, is a vigorous and engaging guide to it… A remarkably rich, provocative, and intelligent work.” ―Sam Leith, The Sunday Times (UK)
“A brilliant account of linguistic research over two centuries… As befits a book about language, this inspiring amalgam of cultural history and science is beautifully written.” ―Clive Cookson, Financial Times (UK)
“A delight to read.” ―Christopher Howse, The Spectator (UK)
“Fascinating and well written… Deutscher's scholarly and eloquent prose made the book an enjoyable read and I learnt lots of great anecdotes along the way.” ―Alex Bellos, The Guardian (UK)
“Deutscher writes as clearly and engagingly as can be… Will this study of language make you giddy? Oh, absolutely.” ―Craig Brown, The Mail on Sunday (UK)
“Jaw-droppingly wonderful… A marvelous and surprising book. The ironic, playful tone at the beginning gradates into something serious that is never pompous, something intellectually and historically complex and yet always pellucidly laid out. It left me breathless and dizzy with delight.” ―Stephen Fry, presenter of Stephen Fry in America, host of QI, and author of Moab Is My Washpot
“At once highly readable and thoroughly learned... Here is an important and original new history of the struggle to understand how language, culture, and thought are connected.” ―Joan Bybee, Distinguished Professor of Linguistics, University of New Mexico
About the Author
Guy Deutscher is the author of The Unfolding of Language. Formerly a fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, and of the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, he is an honorary research fellow at the School of Languages, Linguistics and Cultures at the University of Manchester. He lives in Oxford, England.
- Publisher : Metropolitan Books; 1st edition (August 31, 2010)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 320 pages
- ISBN-10 : 080508195X
- ISBN-13 : 978-0805081954
- Item Weight : 1.25 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.42 x 1.27 x 9.54 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #141,626 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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This is an excellent book, the only drawback is that is feels too short.
THE KINDLE EDITION
However, the Kindle edition (on my black-and-white) Kindle is badly done. All images are quite small for an unknown reason. Some images mentioned in the text are simply missing. Even worse, the book discusses color vision, and has some color charts, but I couldn't find them, and I guess they would be black and white anyway. Maybe Amazon could provide additional download links where you could download the images to your mobile phone or something, since the Kindle edition is simply missing a lot (and typesetting of special characters is horrible, as usual).
What could be done is, you buy a book, you get an e-mail (as you already do) with additional material for that book, so you can immediately click on them on your mobile phone...
As it happens, the British edition has a more accurate subtitle "How Words Color Your World." The first half of the book is mostly about color, and the words we use for color. In the nineteenth century, scholars (led by British PM Gladstone) began to address the fact that some very important historical languages, including Greek, Hebrew and Sanskrit, did not use nearly as many color words as do modern European languages. Later researchers showed that many non-European languages shared this trait. The book describes how this study proceeded, what conclusions it reached, and what seems to Deutscher the best explanation. This part of the book, about 120 pages long, is almost as interesting and just as well written as "Unfolding", though it clearly is a work on a smaller canvas. I would give this section five stars.
The second half of the book examines other areas in which language and culture have interacted -- complexity, gender, and physical orientation. The discussion of complexity is interesting, but very brief. The section on physical orientation strikes me more as a curiosity than something with real importance in the innate/cultural debate. And the section on gender reports a series of complex experiments that, it seems to me, yield very thin results. I would have to give the second half of the book three stars.
Adding it up, this book is well worth the time and attention of anyone interested in linguistics -- and, for the benefit of non- professionals, gracefully written. It's not as satisfying as the earlier work, but I still look forward to the next.
Top reviews from other countries
If I learned anything already it would be that culture doesn't have the power to make you blind, but it has the power to make you indifferent, and the way this book is written let's you see how that works within the language we speak.
It challenges a lot of preconceptions about language and grammar between cultures. Its also very inspiring and informative, pulls out a lot or raw data and reexamins possible biases in interpretation and therefore also their alternative conclusions.
Ridiculing some opinions in the fashion of "as it was when people thought the other thing", sounds genuine at first, and seems to be there only to appeal to both sides, but gets a bit annoying.
Well worth a read!
Duetscher just got too showy offy.
Read it together with Jackendoff, "A User's Guide to Thought and Meaning", which I also recommend.
Just as good as Pinker's books, and much better than David Crystal, "How Language Works", although Crystal is good on phonetics.
Deutscher and Jackendoff are firmly non-Chomskian. They believe that children learn language through co-variance, and do
not suggest an internal inherited grammar exists, which is a belief that Chomsky still holds, according to his YouTube videos.
Deutscher has a short YouTube too.