Language defines us as a species, placing humans head and shoulders above even the most proficient animal communicators. But it also beguiles us with its endless mysteries, allowing us to ponder why different languages emerged, why there isn't simply a single language, how languages change over time and whether that's good or bad, and how languages die out and become extinct. Now you can explore all of these questions and more in an in-depth series of 36 lectures from one of America's leading linguists.
You'll be witness to the development of human language, learning how a single tongue spoken 150,000 years ago evolved into the estimated 6,000 languages used around the world today and gaining an appreciation of the remarkable ways in which one language sheds light on another.
The many fascinating topics you examine in these lectures include: the intriguing evidence that links a specific gene to the ability to use language; the specific mechanisms responsible for language change; language families and the heated debate over the first language; the phenomenon of language mixture; why some languages develop more grammatical machinery than they actually need; the famous hypothesis that says our grammars channel how we think; artificial languages, including Esperanto and sign languages for the deaf; and how word histories reflect the phenomena of language change and mixture worldwide.
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solid, but less scientific than hoped
One of the qualities of this audio book is that it is very comprehensible, with a lot of redundant and repeating content, which makes it easy to follow. If you're already familiar with linguistic science this might lead to some boredom, just because of the redundancy. If you're new to the matter this might be actually helpful.
I'd recommend it to lay people interested in general linguistics. But you should be careful since McWhorter is not always perfectly accurate in his examples and some of the concepts are by far less accepted than presented.
John McWhorter speaks clearly and very comprehensible even for non-native English speakers. Personally I did not like his style, but that is always a debatable aspect. His voice and cadence is very good.
There are 4 chapters dedicated to the Creole language, which an accordingly interested person will find very useful. From a scientific perspective I see a lot more debatable content, which hasn't been marked as such.
- M. R.
Everything you ever wanted to know about language
- Daniel Höllisch