What Language Is

And What It Isn't and What It Could Be

By John McWhorter
(Gotham Books, Paperback, 9781592407200, 228pp.)

Publication Date: August 7, 2012

List Price: $16.00*
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Description

A love letter to languages, celebrating their curiosities and smashing assumptions about correct grammar

An eye-opening tour for all language lovers, What Language Is offers a fascinating new perspective on the way humans communicate. from vanishing languages spoken by a few hundred people to major tongues like Chinese, and with copious revelations about the hodgepodge nature of English, John McWhorter shows readers how to see and hear languages as a linguist does.

Packed with big ideas about language alongside wonderful trivia, What Language Is explains how languages across the globe (the Queen's English and Suriname creoles alike) originate, evolve, multiply, and divide. Raising provocative questions about what qualifies as a language (so-called slang does have structured grammar), McWhorter takes readers on a marvelous journey through time and place—from Persia to the languages of Sri Lanka—to deliver a feast of facts about the wonders of human linguistic expression.



About the Author
John McWhorter is Associate Professor of Linguistics at University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of The Word on the Street: Fact and Fable About American English and two books about Pidgin and Creole languages.
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