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The Prodigal Tongue

Dispatches from the Future of English

Mark Abley

Hardcover

List Price: 25.00*
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Description

An exhilarating exploration of how the world's languages are likely to transform and be transformed by their speakers

Mark Abley, author of Spoken Here, takes the reader on a global journey like no other—from Singapore to Tokyo, from Oxford to Los Angeles, through the Internet and back in time. As much a travel book as a tour of words at play, The Prodigal Tongue goes beyond grammar and vocabulary to discover how language is irrevocably changing the people of the world in far-reaching ways.
On his travels, Abley encounters bloggers, translators, novelists, therapists, dictionary makers, hip-hop performers, and Web-savvy teens. He talks to a married couple who corresponded passionately online before they met in “meatspace.” And he listens to teenagers, puzzling out the words they coin in chat rooms and virtual worlds.
Everywhere he goes, he asks what the future is likely to hold for the ways we communicate. Abley balances a traditional concern for honesty and accuracy in language with a less traditional delight in the sheer creative energy of new words and expressions.
Provocative, perceptive, and often hilarious, this is a book for everyone who cherishes the words we use.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 9780618571222, 272pp.

Publication Date: June 20, 2008



About the Author

Mark Abley, an award-winning journalist, writes for the Montreal Gazette, the Times Literary Supplement, and other publications. He speaks English, French, and a little Welsh. His previous book, Spoken Here, was named a Best Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle and Discover magazine. He won a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2005 for work on language change and the future.