Around the World in Twenty Languages

eBook - 2018
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English is the world language, except that most of the world doesn’t speak it—only one in five people does. Dorren calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world’s 7.4 billion people in their mother tongues, you would need to know no fewer than twenty languages. He sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Swahili, Bengali). Babel whisks the reader on a delightful journey to every continent of the world, tracing how these world languages rose to greatness while others fell away and showing how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues. Whether showcasing tongue-tying phonetics or elegant but complicated writing scripts, and mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs that seem as self-evident to those born into it as they are surprising to the outside world.

Among many other things, Babel will teach you why modern Turks can’t read books that are a mere 75 years old, what it means in practice for Russian and English to be relatives, and how Japanese developed separate “dialects” for men and women. Dorren lets you in on his personal trials and triumphs while studying Vietnamese in Hanoi, debunks ten widespread myths about the Chinese character script, and discovers that today’s Babel is inhabited most graciously by multilingual Africans. Witty, fascinating and utterly compelling, Babel will change the way you look at and listen to the world and how it speaks.
From the celebrated author of Lingo, a whistle-stop tour of the world’s twenty most-spoken languages, exploring history, geography, linguistics, and culture, and showing how the language we speak goes a long way to determining our world

Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Grove Atlantic, 2018
ISBN: 9780802146724
Branch Call Number: eBOOK
P371 .D67 2018
Characteristics: 1 online resource
Additional Contributors: OverDrive, Inc


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Jul 04, 2019

Interesting background information on twenty most spoken languages around the world. Includes notes on some of their relationships, or relatedness, similarities and differences, number of native and second language speakers in the home country and world wide. A great book to purchase and keep on your own personal bookshelf for reference.

Apr 25, 2019

The previous comment is incorrect, this writer is good at his job. You will like the book if you read it.

Jan 04, 2019

Reads more like a collection of unrelated articles each on a different language. On the plus side, I learned a lot — even about languages I knew something about already like German and French. But the book lacks an overall coherence that made it feel more like a jumble.

This goes all the way through. For instance, you might learn something of the intricacies of the Bengali script, but little else about it. Ditto for loan words from Arabic. Sure, the author has to find something interesting to say about each language, but each language felt isolated. The overall effect for me was disjointed.

The book might best be read by picking a chapter you find interesting and then another wending around over weeks or months — not as a read through.


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