[Free pdf] The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest InventionAuthor Guy Deutscher – 91videos.co

I need to begin this review by stating emphatically what this book is not Despite its somewhat misleading cover, it is not a scientific description of how language emerged in evolution, how grunting developed into speech If that is what you are looking for, you will not find it here, as the author states there is no real evidence on which to determine that sequence of events What this book is, however, is an utterly fascinating, well grounded exploration of the basic principles which shape the course of language development, followed by a theoretical account of how language likely evolved from the basic man rock throw level to its current state, by applying those same principles Using examples from various languages around the world at different stages throughout recorded history, the author presents a very logical and convincing explanation as to how languages have developed and changed through three simple principles economy, expressiveness and analogy Through these simple principles one can explain the emergence of case systems, word classes, and even complex grammatical structures in fact all the elements which are present in language I highly recommend this book to all fellow linguaphiles By far the best tour of linguistics for the layman, as pertaining to the development of language Many books which delve into this meaty topic provide a lot of cute examples of etymology, without a really coherent exposition of the processes that have shaped the structure of language, and how linguists uncovered them Professor Deutscher does a lively job of bringing the general reader s attention to the tendencies that have shaped the development of language erosion, emphasis, and metaphor A lesser popularizer of linguistics might again provide us with some whimsical just so stories of how certain words got that way and indeed, Deutscher does it with an amiable sense of humor , but his true achievement is showing us how these forces may have made grammar the way it is though skirting neurology and trying not to delve too unnecessarily into the story of generative grammar , as well as giving a pleasant taste of the massive dose of inspiration that 19th century European linguists required to arrive at these insights I m looking at you, Saussure.This brings us to the word evolutionary in the title Having built the groundwork for understanding how sounds and sense might shift in our own sloppy present day English, he presents an example of language structure that could only have been carefully planned out the imposing edifice of Semitic verb structure, possessed of such elegance that it must have been handed down on stone tablets, right Wrong In any case, the arguments are sophisticated, but they follow along the same lines as less daunting aspects of our own familiar English Meanwhile, the writing style ought to leave any lover of language feeling that they ve just had a genial chat with a great conversationalist. I can highly recommend it I started but did not finish a PhD in Computational Linguistics, and was put off by the unnecessary complexity of Head Driven Phrase Structure Grammar Since then I have read a lot of linguistic books to try to understand the motivation for such complexity.Deutscher keeps things simple, whilst answering all sort of questions that had occurred to me concerning the evolution of languages The level of treatment is just a bit deeper than Pinker s The Language Instinct and his Words and Rules , but the book is just as enthralling.We learn why all the cases of Sanskrit and its descendent Latin arose, and why they then disappeared, and why they reappeared again in French verbs We also learn how heute tag , aujourd hui and today all sprang from hodie which came from hoc die.The book is pure Linguistics, with nothing on Neuroscience see Dehaene or psycholinguistics for a Linguist who recognizes this psychological branch, see the two books by Jackendoff , or Phonetics I had previously read 3 books on Phonetics and could think of lots of concrete explanations for processes Deutscher describes generically.The Psychologists all say the two year old is a little covariance machine Deutscher has a terrific example regarding word morphology and threek as opposed to fork.So Deutscher s book has got it all for me, with links into all these other branches of knowledge. Dr Deutscher has done a scholarly, thorough discussion on the roots of language, but I believe he started too late in time I m of the persuasion that language involvesthan the spoken word I find body language which proponents argue communicate half of what we speak , facial expressions think FACS, FBI, microexpressions , movement to be as telling of a person s intentions as words Sometimesso Yet, he argues language was born when we could prove it was born for how can anyone presume to know what went on in prehistoric times without indulging in make believe impressive range of theories circulating for how the first words emerged from shouts and calls from hand gestures and sign language from the ability to imitateThe point is that as long as there is no evidence, all these scenarios remain just so stories Or deductive reasoning Something the modern brain excels at This despite the fact that his cover includes the popular ape man image.Still, he adds humor and a highly intelligent discussion I thoroughly enjoyed. 22 Mar 2019 This is not a good book for reading on a kindle or a phone, or even a small tablet The problem is that the text is strewn with examples that the text discusses These examples, which are often in languages other than English, are actually graphics so they do not expand when the main text expands and they started out as really small text Mostly they are unreadable If you have a touch screen it helps because you can expand the graphic a little bit, but it s annoying to have to select it to move it to different window, then expand until it s readable And scroll around to read the whole thing That being said, I enjoyed this book for the most part It s a short book, less than 300 pages, and is well written in an engaging, relaxed style For the most part it is accessible to the lay reader, but probably only if you re a little knowledgeable about language and are very interested in how languages develop The author does get into the weeds occasionally and sometimes seems to belabor a point that is obvious However, as he explains, the reason such developments seem obvious is that we re used to our language containing those devices, but that doesn t explain how they came to be common So, although I found myself occasionally glazing over, I faithfully read all of it except the Appendices, which really get into the weeds The general point is that languages have never been consciously designed by a human agency, even those that are very complex and rule based This book explains how even the most complex language features develop naturally though usage because of a few human impulses erosion laziness , the needs forexpressiveness, and the need for order, all of which occur without conscious intent It was interesting and I recommend it to languaphiles It s not that you won t understand it if you re not especially interested in language, it s that you d probably be rather bored. A couple of days ago I finished reading The Unfolding of Language An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind s Greatest Invention by Guy Deutscher Wow, it s exhausting just to say the name, imagine what it felt like to read the book But, seriously the work is intellectually challenging and often provoked me to engage in thoughts on the ever changing state of human language And yes, metaphors are the erodent of language in case you were wondering Many times I found myself reminiscing about the complexity of the ancestral expressions By the way, anyone who thinks modern language isintricate than say Latin or ancient Babylonian needs to pick up this book Mr Deutscher s analysis seemed logical enough to make me a believer that dead languages were a loteloquent than modern ones But this is where interesting stops and tedious begins I felt this book was geared toward students in linguistics as oppose to the average reader my apologies to the author, but I m a graduate in business At times it seemed Mr Deutscher couldn t make up his mind on what to include in the actual body of the book and what to leave in the Appendixes and trust me, there is a lot that should ve been left in the Appendixes For example, consonances and grammatical rules of African languages did little to entice my eagerness to immerse myself in the constructs of language Often I had to go back and reread some pages forcing myself to ascertain their usefulness and applicability in my daily life unsuccessfully, if I may add I expected the evolutionary tour to include historical aspects of the human evolution, butoh well Unfortunately, I wouldn t recommend this book Instead, for those readers interested in introductory material into the evolution of language masterfully coupled with historical analysis I recommend Genes, Peoples, and Languages by Luigi Luca Cavalli Sforza. This started out as a strong 4 star book, possibly going up to a 5, but as I slogged through the details on fricatives and declension and glottal stops and the structure of Semitic verbs, it steadily declined and by the end I was tempted to give it a 2 Rather than any indication of inconsistent effort and presentation on behalf of its skilled author, I think this simply reflects the fact that linguistics is fascinating from a distance and dreadfully dull up close.I love etymology I love tracing a word s evolution over the course of centuries, and seeing how certain words are rooted in other words Like how the word lyrics is actually derived from the word for that ancient stringed instrument, a lyre Neat You might think this sort of thing is what linguistics is all about, but you d be wrong No, linguists actually pay a lotattention to things like the shape and position of the tongue in the mouth when forming specific sounds, and why some sounds tend to morph over time into different sounds, and how essentially arbitrary endings get attached to verbs and nouns and grammatical rules evolve and persist, adding complexity without utility These things aren t nearly as interesting up close, in exhaustive detail, as they are from a distance in an overview As an analogy I love architecture I can appreciate the beauty of a finely crafted building and both the creative vision and structural engineering involved But I m not particularly interested in the specific minutiae on how to put up drywall and mix concrete It s still worth reading and gives some fascinating insights into how languages emerge and evolve If you really want to learn all about how to mix that concrete, you ll like it even . 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 I ve learned a bunch of interesting things through this book, like how the forces of destruction and construction are continuously combined to shape language and the ubiquitous presence of metaphors all along Another interesting aspect is the realization of mankind s inclination for doingwith less and the need for order reflected in the constant evolution of language It s also worth noticing the highly complex framework of Semitic languages as well as how basic choices in the verb object order can ultimately define the overall structure of an idiom Turkish vs English.The book demonstrates very well how complex and dynamic the edifice of language is.With all that good stuff, however, I felt disengaged on the second half of the book and skipped some parts, due to the enormous amount of details devoted to certain topics and the author s desire to go to the bottom of some idea I am pretty sure such aspects are very relevant to people closer to the realm, but it s too much information for someone simply touring through. This was a delightful and fascinating book It s very readable and entertaining and I don t think that I will ever look at language quite the same way again I wished, quite early on in the book, that I had read it or had it to read twenty years ago when I was teaching English in Japan It made a lot of issues and problems that my students were facing much clearer to me, and if nothing else I wish I d been able to explain to my students WHY English spelling is so screwy The author doesn t try to tackle how words evolved he starts with what he refers to as the Me Tarzan stage, and shows how simply and easilycomplex grammar evolved from there And his chapters on how and why grammar and language devolves, how case endings for nouns got lost, pronunciation slips, and words change from one syntactic category to another are also both very clear and really fascinating.