Trip of the Tongue
Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Languages
By Elizabeth Little
(Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781596916562, 320pp.)
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
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Though we're known as a nation of English speakers, the linguistic map of the United States is hardly monochromatic. While much ado has been made about the role that Spanish may play in our national future, it would be a gross misrepresentation to label America a bilingual country. On the contrary, our languages are as varied as our origins. There is Basque in Nevada, Arabic in Detroit, Gullah in South Carolina. We speak European, Asian, and American Indian languages; we speak creoles, jargons, and pidgins. As a resident of Queens-among the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse places on the planet-Elizabeth Little first began to wonder how this host of tongues had shaped the American experience. It was only a matter of time before she decided to take her questions on the road.
In Trip of the Tongue, Little explores our nation's many cultures and languages in search of what they say about who we are individually, socially, and politically. This book is both a celebration of American multiculturalism and a reflection on what we value, what we fight for, and what we allow ourselves to forget. Elizabeth Little is a witty and endearing tour guide for this memorable and original trip.
"Little makes for a perfect tour guide. More than a collection of fascinating linguistic details (though it is that), by the end this book deepens into a full-throated defense of everybody's native tongues, and the right - no, the need - to hang onto them." -The Boston Globe
"Fascinating…Little's obvious enthusiasm drives the prose and keeps the information fresh and relevant. Arguing that language heritage is about more than the use of definite articles, Little delivers a revealing lesson in history, culture, prejudice, and privilege." -Booklist
"An entertaining and enlightening book from a brainy, foul-mouthed and very funny tour guide." - Kirkus Review
"An enchanting journey across the landscape of American language and culture, including everything from Navajo to Norwegian." - Publishers Weekly