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Babel : around the world in twenty languages / Gaston Dorren.

Dorren, Gaston, author. (Author).
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Available copies

  • 0 of 1 copy available at LARL/NWRL Consortium.
  • 0 of 1 copy available at Lake Agassiz Regional Library. (Show preferred library)

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0 current holds with 1 total copy.

Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
Crookston Public Library 410 DOR (Text) 33500012830295 New Checked out 10/12/2019

Record details

  • ISBN: 0802128793
  • ISBN: 9780802128799
  • Physical Description: 360 pages : illustrations, color maps, portraits, charts ; 23 cm
  • Edition: First Grove Atlantic hardcover edition.
  • Publisher: New York : Atlantic Monthly Press, 2018.

Content descriptions

General Note: "First published in Great Britain in 2018 by Profile Books"--Title page verso.
Maps on end-papers.
Bibliography, etc. Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Formatted Contents Note: Introduction: twenty languages: half the world -- Vietnamese, 85 million: linguistic moutaineering -- Korean, 85 million: sound and sensibility -- Tamil, 90 million: a matter of life and death -- Turkish, 90 million: irreparably improved -- Javanese, 95 million: talking up, talking down -- Persian, 110 million: empire builders and construction workers -- Punjabi, 125 million: the tone is the message -- Japanese, 130 million: linguistic gender apartheid -- Swahili, 135 million: Africa's nonchalant multilingualism -- German, 200 million: an eccentric in central Europe -- French, 250 million: death to la différence -- Malay, 275 million: the one that won -- Russian, 275 million: on being Indo-European -- Portuguese, 275 million: punching above its weight -- Bengali, 275 million: world leaders in abugidas -- Arabic, 375 million: a concise dictionary of our Arabic -- Hindi-Urdu, 550 million: always something breaking us in two -- Spanish, 575 million: ¿Ser or estar? that's the question -- Mandarin, 1.3 billion: the mythical Chinese script -- Japanese revisited: a writing system lacking in system -- English, 1.5 billion: a special lingua franca?.
Summary, etc.: A tour of the world's twenty most-spoken languages explores the history, geography, linguistics, and cultures that have been shaped by languages and their customs.
"English is the world language, except that most of the world doesn't speak it--only one in five people does. Gaston Dorren calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world's 7.4 or so billion people in their mother tongues, you would need to know no fewer than twenty languages. He sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Javanese, Punjabi). [This book] whisks the reader on a delightful journey to every continent of the world, tracing how these world languages rose to greatness while others fell away, and showing how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues. Whether exploring tongue-tying phonetics, complicated writing scripts, or mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs. Among many other things, Babel will teach you why modern Turks can't read books that are a mere seventy-five years old, what it means in practice for Russian and English to be relatives, and how Japanese developed separate "dialects" for men and women. Dorren lets you in on his personal trials and triumphs while studying Vietnamese, debunks ten widespread myths about Chinese characters, and discovers that Swahili became the lingua franca in a part of the world where people routinely speak three or more languages. Witty, fascinating and utterly compelling, Babel will change the way you look at and listen to the world and how it speaks."--Dust jacket.

  • Booklist Reviews : Booklist Reviews 2018 October #2
    Linguists may recognize 6,000 living languages, but, in just 20 of these, Dorren finds the means whereby three-quarters of the planet's population communicate, either as native speakers or capable adopters. In surveying this score of tongues, Dorren teaches readers a great deal about how languages survive, evolve, and spread. Readers learn, for example, why the small country of Portugal has so successfully exported its language and why Malay triumphed over 700 other languages as Indonesia's dominant language. Readers learn a good deal, too, about comparative syntax and pronunciation: Dorren explains, for instance, how Spanish reflexive pronouns differ from their English counterparts and how the tonal structure of Punjabi contrasts with that of Mandarin. But as he shifts focus from language chapter to language chapter, Dorren delves into social and political dynamics affecting speech and writing. Readers see, for instance, how language differences triggered civil war between Sri Lanka's Tamil and Sinhalese speakers and how segregated lexicons created what Dorren provocatively labels "gender apartheid" in Japan. A fascinating foray into global linguistics. Copyright 2018 Booklist Reviews.

Author Notes

Gaston Dorren is a linguist, journalist, and polyglot. He speaks Dutch, Limburgish, English, German, French, and Spanish, and reads nine more languages. He is the author of Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages, as well as two books in Dutch and the app, The Language Lover’s Guide to Europe. Dorren lives in the Netherlands.

Subject: Linguistic geography.
Language and languages > Variation.
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / Historical & Comparative.
Linguistic geography.
Language and languages.
Language and languages > Variation.
Linguistic geography.

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