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26
Sep 10
Sun

Through the Language Glass

I bought Through the Language Glass after reading this excerpt. The book is a mostly interesting read, tracing the shifting history of views of linguists on this question over time. The excerpt pulls out the most interesting bits so I’m not going to repeat them. However, in the book Deutscher does go into a lot more depth about how linguists’ thoughts have changed over time about how language influences the way we perceive the world (and how hard it is to figure this out). How different cultures “see” color is examined particularly closely, and Deutscher also keeps bringing us back to the insightful point that what’s important in the analysis is not what a language is capable of expressing, but what a language forces its speakers to express (e.g. in English we are forced to express time; Hebrew speakers are forced to express gender; and Chinese speakers are forced to express neither time nor gender).

If you can look past the author’s needlessly flowery language, and you have an armchair interest in languages, this is a decent read.

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