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Fascinating material, but a bit long-winded.
am 20. April 2011
This book is not just a collection of anecdotes and descriptions of various experiments in the field of linguistics, it is a journey through the history of a certain area of linguistics starting in the early 19th century up to today.
Guy Deutscher explains how we came to believe what we believe about the influence of language on thinking, and how some of those beliefs are plain wrong. He examines three areas in particular, on which language has had a demonstrable effect:
- perception of color
- perception of spatial directions / spatial memory
- association male/female qualities with objects by speakers of gendered languages
The insights offered here are indeed fascinating, as well as very well explained. Moreover, Mr. Deutscher is also an excellent stylist - which brings us to the major weakness this book displays:
He takes far too long to get to the point. Whilst the history behind the discoveries is never less than brilliantly detailed, the author takes his sweet time to get to the point. The first half of the book, in particular, is pretty much devoid of any statements about language. Instead, by the end of it, you will be an expert on the various ideas about color in the last two centuries.
Cut to about half its length, "Through the Language Glass" would be twice as good.