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Analysing the uninvented invention,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention (Gebundene Ausgabe)
The author calls language an "uninvented invention". This very engaging book is an attempt to uncover at least some of the secrets of language and to dismantle the stated paradox. By drawing on recent discoveries in linguistics, Deutscher explores the elusive forces of creation, change and the innate structure of language. In addition, he investigates the way that the elaborate conventions of communication develop in human society. This cultural evolution means the emergence of behavioural codes that are passed on from generation to generation.
Chapter One: Castles In The Air, takes a close look at the structure of language, whilst the following chapter: Perpetual Motion, demonstrates linguistic development and change with particular reference to English, German, French and the Indo-European language family as a whole. Chapter Three: Forces Of Destruction, is a further investigation of how and why changes in sound and meaning take place, with many examples from Indo-European. Chapter Four examines interesting verbs like "To have/to hold" and the concepts of space and time in linguistic expression.
Chapter Five: Forces Of Creation, is a discussion of how new words and structures arise, how meanings change and how languages are enriched by these developments. Chapter Six looks at the need for order in languages and contains lots of interesting information on the Semitic family and its intricate verbal system. In essence, the effects of erosion interact with the mind's craving for order. There is thus a constant search for regular patterns and spontaneous analogical innovations arise. This is based on erosion + expressiveness and erosion + analogy.
The final chapter brings it all together and includes detailed discussions of possessives, quantifiers, plural markers, articles and the various interactions of verbs and nouns. This highly entertaining read is accessible to the non-linguist and explains many fascinating features of language and its structure. There are five appendices, copious notes, a bibliography and glossary of terms. The book concludes with an index.
I also recommend On The Origin Of Languages by Merritt Ruhlen, How To Kill A Dragon by Calvert Watkins, and the work of that great pioneer of language classification, Professor Joseph Greenberg.
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