Author(s): Guy Deutscher
'Language is mankind's greatest invention - except of course, that it was never invented.' So begins Guy Deutscher's enthralling investigation into the evolution of language. No one believes that the Roman Senate sat down one day to design the complex system that is Latin grammar, and few believe, these days, in the literal truth of the story of the Tower of Babel. But then how did there come to be so many languages, and of such elaborate design? If we started off with rudimentary utterances on the level of 'man throw spear', how did we end up with sophisticated grammars, enormous vocabularies, and intricately nuanced shades of meaning? Drawing on recent, groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication. Along the way, we learn why German maidens are neuter while German turnips are female, why we have feet not foots, and how great changes of pronunciation may result from simple laziness...
'Enthralling' A.S. Byatt A brilliant and original exploration of how languages evolve and have evolved, comparable to Steven Pinker's The Language Instinct in its accessibility, wit and ambition. 20040315
Born in 1969, Guy Deutscher read Maths at Cambridge before doing a PhD in Linguistics. Formerly a Research Fellow in Historical Linguistics at St John's College, Cambridge, he is now at the Department of Ancient Near Eastern Languages in the University of Leiden. He lives in Amsterdam.