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am 3. April 2011
This isn't the usual sort of book that I review - Language & Linguistics is a bit more upmarket than the usual romance or vampire novels that I tend to read. However, I was browsing in a bookshop in Berlin and among the 'Englische Bücher' I saw this book featured. It had an endorsement on the front by Stephen Fry so I thought I'd give it a go.

I'm really glad I did as reading this book opened up a whole new way of looking at things. Guy Deutscher looks in detail at how the language we speak may colour our view of the world - focusing on colour and how we name/see it (from the Greek Iliad and the wine-dark sea to how Russians react to different shades of blue) and how position of objects can be described in different ways depending on how your culture marks out place. There was so much packed into this book that I found myself hooked, reading it until late in the night and going back to read some sections again.

The language examples are from a vast array of languages - modern European ones with which we may be familiar to some of the much less well-known tongues from the antipodes and further. Although the author is an academic this book was fun, engaging, warm and in no way dry and dusty.

I also think it worth mentioning that the quality of the writing was absolutely excellent. Deutscher's English is lovely, with a great turn of phrase. All the more amazing when you discover that his mother tongue is Hebrew and so English is a second language to him. I was really impressed by the way that he could express himself in English whilst explaining how something may seem to him as someone who sees the world through a Hebrew mind.

I heartily recommend this book to anyone with the faintest of interest in language, linguistics, colours and more.
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