Presenting a tour of English from its mongrel origins to its status as the world's most-spoken tongue; its apparent simplicity to its deceptive complexity; its vibrant swearing to its uncertain spelling and pronunciation, this book covers curious eccentricities that make it as maddening to learn and as flexible to use.
''Marvellous . . . I read it with astonished delight..It is equally scholarly and entertaining.'' Jan Morris ''Delightfully quirky and compelling'' The Times One we''ve learned it as children few of us think much of the alphabet and its familiar sing-song order. And yet the order if the alphabet, that simple knowledge that we take for granted, plays a major role in our adult lives. From the school register to the telephone book, from dictionaries and encyclopaedias to library shelves, our lives are ordered from A to Z. Long before Google searches, this magical system of organisation gave us the ability to sift through centuries of thought, knowledge and literature, allowing us to sort, to file, and to find the information we have, and to locate the information we need. Acclaimed historian Judith Flanders draws our attention to both the neglected ubiquity of the alphabet and the long, complex history of its rise to prominence. For, while the order of the alphabet itself became fixed very soon after letters were first invented, their ability to sort and store and organize proved far less obvious. To many of our forebears, the idea of of organising things by the random chance of the alphabet rather than by established systems of hierarchy or typology lay somewhere between unthinkable and disrespectful. In A Place for Everything , Judith Flanders fascinatingly lays out the gradual triumph of alphabetical order, from its possible earliest days as a sorting tool in the Great Library of Alexandria in the third century BCE, to its current decline in prominence in our digital age of Wikipedia and Google. Along the way, the reader is enlightened and entertained with a wonderful cast of unknown facts, characters and stories from the great collector Robert Cotton, who denominated his manuscripts with the names of the busts of the Roman emperors surmounting his book cases, to the unassuming sixteenth-century London bookseller who ushered in a revolution by listing his authors by ''sirname'' first.
This beautifully illustrated guide delves deep into the meaning and significance of different tattoo symbols, exploring the rich cultural history around the world of this widespread form ofbody art.
Tattoos are everywhere: one in three of us has at least one. Body art is one of the most popular ways of expressing our identity and beliefs.
But whether we're aware of it or not when we choose a design to be permanently inked on our skin, a complex language of meanings lies behind the visuals we choose. A lotus flower, koi carp swimming upstream or a dragon rising towards the sun: in the language of tattoos these are all symbols of strength and overcoming adversity.
This book uncovers the meanings behind tattoo symbols, delving into the history of the most popular motifs that recur in many different tattoo styles, including tribal, traditional, Japanese and realistic. Over 150 symbols are grouped according to their meanings, whether it's good luck, freedom, wisdom, power, spirituality or love.
Each symbol is illustrated with stunning, specially drawn visuals by acclaimed artist and tattooist Megamunden, and accompanied by an explanation by tattoo expert Nick Schonberger which delves into its history, significance and application in tattooing.
Both a visual delight and a fascinating insight into the rich cultural heritage of tattooing, this is the perfect book for anyone wanting to learn more about tattoo symbolism, in need of inspiration for their next inking, or who just loves tattoo art.
Looks at one of the most fundamental of our species' distinguishing characteristics: the use of language. The author argues that our language abilities are part of our genetic inheritance, not a cultural artefact, and that language is a basic human instinct.
A guide to word origins offers entries covering the history and sense-development of a major part of the modern English vocabulary.
If you were to master the twenty languages discussed in Babel , you could talk with three quarters of the world's population. But what makes these languages stand out amid the world's estimated 6,500 tongues? Gaston Dorren delves deep into the linguistic oddities and extraordinary stories of these diverse lingua francas, tracing their origins and their sometimes bloody rise to greatness. He deciphers their bewildering array of scripts, presents the gems and gaps in their vocabularies and charts their coinages and loans. He even explains how their grammars order their speakers' worldview. Combining linguistics and cultural history, Babel takes us on an intriguing tour of the world, addressing such questions as how tiny Portugal spawned a major world language and Holland didn't, why Japanese women talk differently from men, what it means for Russian to be 'related' to English, and how non-alphabetic scripts, such as those of India and China, do the same job as our 26 letters. Not to mention the conundrums of why Vietnamese has four forms for 'I', or how Tamil pronouns keep humans and deities apart. Babel will change the way you look at the world and how we all speak.
"A model of popular-science writing" STEVEN POOLE Who was "the first speaker" and what was their first message? An erudite, tightly woven and beautifully written account of one of humanity''s greatest mysteries - the origins of language. Drawing on evidence from many fields, including archaeology, anthropology, neurology and linguistics, Sverker Johansson weaves these disparate threads together to show how our human ancestors evolved into language users. The Dawn of Language provides a fascinating survey of how grammar came into being and the differences or similarities between languages spoken around the world, before exploring how language eventually emerged in the very remote human past. Our intellectual and physiological changes through the process of evolution both have a bearing on our ability to acquire language. But to what extent is the evolution of language dependent on genes, or on environment? How has language evolved further, and how is it changing now, in the process of globalisation? And which aspects of language ensure that robots are not yet intelligent enough to reconstruct how language has evolved? Johansson''s far-reaching, authoritative and research-based approach to language is brought to life through dozens of astonishing examples, both human and animal, in a fascinatingly erudite and entertaining volume for anyone who has ever contemplated not just why we speak the way we do, but why we speak at all. Translated from the Swedish by Frank Perry
Most of us give little thought to the back of the book - it''s just where you go to look things up. But here, hiding in plain sight, is an unlikely realm of ambition and obsession, sparring and politicking, pleasure and play. Here we might find Butchers, to be avoided, or Cows that sh-te Fire, or even catch Calvin in his chamber with a Nonne. This is the secret world of the index: an unsung but extraordinary everyday tool, with an illustrious but little-known past. Here, for the first time, its story is told.br>br>Charting its curious path from the monasteries and universities of thirteenth-century Europe to Silicon Valley in the twenty-first, Dennis Duncan reveals how the index has saved heretics from the stake, kept politicians from high office and made us all into the readers we are today. We follow it through German print shops and Enlightenment coffee houses, novelists'' living rooms and university laboratories, encountering emperors and popes, philosophers and prime ministers, poets, librarians and - of course - indexers along the way. Revealing its vast role in our evolving literary and intellectual culture, Duncan shows that, for all our anxieties about the Age of Search, we are all index-rakers at heart, and we have been for eight hundred years.>
''Brilliant. So rich with detail.'' Kate Wiles, senior editor of History Today ''Delightful ... a pleasure'' Steven Poole, Guardian Old English is the language you think you know until you hear or see it. Used throughout much of Britain over a thousand years ago, it is rich with words that haven''t changed (like word in fact), others that are unrecognisable (such as neorxnawang , or paradise) and some that are curious even in translation ( gafol-fisc literally means tax-fish). In this beautiful little book, Hana Videen has gathered these gems into a glorious trove that illuminates the lives, beliefs and habits of the earliest English speakers. We discover a world where choking on a bit of bread might prove your guilt, where fiend-ship was as likely as friend-ship, and you might grow up to be a laughter-smith. These are the magical roots of our own language: you''ll never see English in the same way again.
Features a survey of everything from how sounds become speech to how names work. This work also talks about eyebrow flashes, whistling languages, how parents teach their children to speak, how politeness travels across languages and how the way we talk show not just how old we are but where we're from and even who we want to be.
An insiders tour through the construction of invented languages from the bestselling author and creator of languages for the HBO series Game of Thrones and the Syfy series Defiance From master language creator David J. Peterson comes a creative guide to language construction for sci-fi and fantasy fans, writers, game creators, and language lovers. Peterson offers a captivating overview of language creation, covering its history from Tolkiens creations and Klingon to todays thriving global community of conlangers. He provides the essential tools necessary for inventing and evolving new languages, using examples from a variety of languages including his own creations, punctuated with references to everything from Star Wars to Michael Jackson. Along the way, behind-the-scenes stories lift the curtain on how he built languages like Dothraki for HBOs Game of Thrones and Shiväisith for Marvels Thor: The Dark World , and an included phrasebook will start fans speaking Petersons constructed languages. The Art of Language Invention is an inside look at a fascinating culture and an engaging entry into a flourishing art form--and it might be the most fun youll ever have with linguistics.
Would Hiroshima have been bombed if Japanese contained a phrase meaning ''no comment''? Is it alright for missionaries to replace the Bible''s ''white as snow'' with ''white as fungus'' in places where snow never falls? Who, or what, is Kuzma''s mother, and why was Nikita Khrushchev so threateningly obsessed with her (or it)? The course of diplomacy rarely runs smooth; without an invisible army of translators and interpreters, it''s hard to see how it could run at all. But though such go-betweens tend to be overlooked, even despised, the subtlest of them have achieved a remarkable degree of influence. Join veteran translator Anna Aslanyan to explore hidden histories of cunning and ambition, heroism and incompetence. Meet the figures behind the notable events of history, from the Great Game to Brexit, and discover just how far a simple misunderstanding can go.
From the bestselling author of Alex''s Adventures in Numberland and Can You Solve My Problems? comes a fascinating, hugely entertaining collection of puzzles for crossword addicts and language-lovers of all stripes. ''The only puzzle book I''ve seen that manages to befuddle both sides of the brain at the same time.'' DARA O BRIAIN ''Such fun, full of unexpected ideas and charmingly written.'' TIM HARFORD Can you decipher the code of a long-lost civilization? Or solve riddles in runes? Or will you get lost in translation? Crossing continents and borders, bestselling puzzle author Alex Bellos has gathered more than one hundred of the world''s best conundrums that celebrate the rich diversity of human language and culture, all while testing your deduction, intuition and street smarts. ''For all the language and puzzle fans in your life!'' GRETCHEN McCULLOCH ''A cornucopia of ingenious and insightful challenges.'' DAVID CRYSTAL ''This compendium of puzzles is a great idea.'' MICHAEL ROSEN ''You''ll love what Alex Bellos has done here.'' GYLES BRANDRETH ''Tantalisting.'' THE ECONOMIST ''The perfect way to pass the time.'' BBC SCIENCE FOCUS
Language opens up our world, and in the same instant, limits it. What does it mean to exist in a language that was never meant for you to speak? Why are we missing certain words? How can we talk about our communal problems without fuelling them? What does it actually mean to speak freely? As a writer and activist fighting for equality, Kubra Gumusay has been thinking about these questions for many years. In this book she explores how language shapes our thinking and determines our politics. She shows how people become invisible as individuals when they are always seen as part of a group, and the way those in the minority often have to expend energy cleaning up the messy thinking of others. But she also points to how we might shape conversations to allow for greater ambiguity and individuality, how arguments might happen in a space of learning and vulnerability without sacrificing principles - how we might all be able to speak freely.
Language is mankind's greatest invention - except of course, that it was never invented.' So begins Guy Deutscher's fascinating 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 in pronunciation may result from simple laziness...
B>How a hundred years of linguistic innovation turned China into one of the most powerful countries of the modern era/b>br>br> After a meteoric rise, China today is one of the world''s most powerful nations. Just a century ago, it was a crumbling empire, with literacy reserved for the elite few. In Kingdom of Characters, Jing Tsu argues that China''s greatest and most daunting challenge was a linguistic one. Just as important as China''s technological and industrial advances and political maneuvers was the century-long fight to make the Chinese language--with its many dialects and complex character-based script--accessible to the modern world of global trade and digital technology.br>br> Kingdom of Characters follows the bold and cunning innovators who adapted the Chinese language to a world defined by the West and its alphabet: the exiled reformer who risked a death sentence to advocate for Mandarin as a national language, the Chinese Muslim poet who laid the groundwork for Chairman Mao''s phonetic writing system, the imprisoned computer engineer who devised input codes for Chinese characters on the lid of a tea cup, among others. Without the advances they enabled, China might never have become the dominating force we know today.br>br> The revolution of the Chinese script is just as breathtaking as China''s transformation into a capitalist juggernaut, in large part because those linguistic innovations literally enabled China''s reinvention. With larger-than-life characters and an unexpected perspective on the major events of China''s tumultuous twentieth century, Tsu reveals how language is both a technology to be perfected and a subtle yet potent power to be exercised and expanded.
A landmark reference guide to the LGBTQIA+ community''s contributions to the English language-an intersectional, inclusive illustrated glossary featuring more than 800 terms created by and for queer culture. With a foreword from Paula Akpan Do you know where "yaaaas queen!" comes from? Do you know the difference between a bear and a wolf? Do you know what all the letters in LGBTQIA+ stand for? The Queens'' English is a comprehensive guide to modern gay slang, queer theory terms, and playful colloquialisms that define and celebrate LGBTQIA+ culture. This modern dictionary provides an in-depth look at queer language, from terms influenced by celebrated lesbian poet Sappho and from New York''s underground queer ball culture in the 1980s to today''s celebration of RuPaul''s Drag Race . The glossary of terms is supported by full-color illustrations and photography throughout, as well as real-life usage examples for those who don''t quite know how to use "kiki," "polysexual," or "transmasculine" in a sentence. A series of educational lessons highlight key people and events that shaped queer language; readers will learn the linguistic importance of pronouns, gender identity, Stonewall, the Harlem Renaissance, and more. For every queen in your life-the men, women, gender non-conforming femmes, butches, daddies, and zaddies- The Queens'' English is at once an education and a celebration of queer history, identity, and the limitless imagination of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Susie Dent is the resident word expert in Dictionary Corner on C4''s Countdown and 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown , has been on every programme about words: 15 x 15 , Word of Mouth , More or Less ; and is a regular panellist on R4''s Wordaholics. Susie also writes a weekly column for the Radio Times , reviews for the Spectator and has over 570,000 followers on Twitter. This is the book she has always wanted to write.>