The Power of Babel

The Power of Babel Cover

The Power of Babel

By John McWhorter

Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780060520854, 352pp.

Publication Date: January 7, 2003


There are approximately six thousand languages on Earth today, each a descendant of the tongue first spoken by Homo sapiens some 150,000 years ago. While laying out how languages mix and mutate over time, linguistics professor John McWhorter reminds us of the variety within the species that speaks them, and argues that, contrary to popular perception, language is not immutable and hidebound, but a living, dynamic entity that adapts itself to an ever-changing human environment.

Full of humor and imaginative insight, The Power of Babel draws its illustrative examples from languages around the world, including pidgins, Creoles, and nonstandard dialects.

About the Author
John McWhorter is an associate professor of English and comparative literature at Columbia University and is the author of sixteen books, including "The Language Hoax", "The Power of Babel", and "Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue". He writes for "TIME", CNN, "The Wall Street Journal", and "The Atlantic", and his articles have also appeared in "The New York Times", "The New Yorker", the" Los Angeles Times", " The Washington Post", "The New Republic", " "and The Daily Beast.