Language is our greatest invention

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Translated from the English by Martin Pfeiffer. A story of language told by a renowned linguist. Guy Deutscher shows how simple sounds became the sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies and complex contexts of meaning of today: "Language is mankind's greatest invention - although of course it was never invented." Guy Deutscher begins his world history of language with this sentence. He humorously conveys the latest findings in language research and describes the close connection between destruction and creation in speaking. Using numerous examples, the author shows how a language can grow into complex structures and also disintegrate again. In addition, Deutscher also answers questions such as: Why do most languages ​​not have a verb for "haben"? Why is the German "girl" a neuter and the German "turnip" feminine? And why do Turks seem to speak backwards?

Review note on Süddeutsche Zeitung, February 4, 2009

Thomas Steinfeld reports enthusiastically about this story of Guy Deutscher's language, which he hopes will end the wallflower existence of linguistics with a wider audience. The reviewer advises not to let the "silly" title of the German edition deter you, because the book is suitable for the "land register" of linguistics. The main thesis of the Israeli linguist, who now teaches at the University of Leiden, is that language develops and changes out of the three principles of economy, expressivity and conformity, explains Steinfeld. And even if he finds the "lightness" that characterizes the book a little forced, he appreciates the fact that Deutscher endeavors to restore the linguistics, which today are hardly noticed outside of academic circles, to a larger one To make accessible to the readership.
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