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The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention par [Deutscher, Guy]
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The Unfolding of Language: An Evolutionary Tour of Mankind's Greatest Invention Reprint , Format Kindle

3.0 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client

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Description du produit

Revue de presse

"'Highly original... Brilliant... How did...regular and complex languages come to exist? Deutscher's chosen task is to unravel [a] paradox, and he does so brilliantly, witholding the secret with great skill. If I told you how it works, you wouldn't buy the book. Both clever and convincing... this book will stretch your mind' Independent on Sunday"

"'He really ought to be anyone who persists in complaining that the English language is going to the dogs...Interesting and substantial' Sunday Telegraph"

"'Powerful and thrilling' Spectator"

"'I was enthralled by Guy Deutscher's The Unfolding of Language, a history of how words came to take the forms they do, and therefore a history of the forms of the human mind.'" (A.S. Byatt in the Guardian 'Books of the Year)

"Fascinating... Any curious reader...will find something worth knowing in The Unfolding of Language'" (Boston Globe)

Présentation de l'éditeur

Blending the spirit of Eats, Shoots & Leaves with the science of The Language Instinct, an original inquiry into the development of that most essential-and mysterious-of human creations: Language

Language is mankind's greatest invention-except, of course, that it was never invented." So begins linguist Guy Deutscher's enthralling investigation into the genesis and evolution of language. 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 degrees of meaning?

Drawing on recent groundbreaking discoveries in modern linguistics, Deutscher exposes the elusive forces of creation at work in human communication, giving us fresh insight into how language emerges, evolves, and decays. He traces the evolution of linguistic complexity from an early "Me Tarzan" stage to such elaborate single-word constructions as the Turkish sehirlilestiremediklerimizdensiniz ("you are one of those whom we couldn't turn into a town dweller"). Arguing that destruction and creation in language are intimately entwined, Deutscher shows how these processes are continuously in operation, generating new words, new structures, and new meanings.

As entertaining as it is erudite, The Unfolding of Language moves nimbly from ancient Babylonian to American idiom, from the central role of metaphor to the staggering triumph of design that is the Semitic verb, to tell the dramatic story and explain the genius behind a uniquely human faculty.

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 6091 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 372 pages
  • Editeur : Metropolitan Books; Édition : Reprint (2 mai 2006)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B00BCG1MK8
  • Synthèse vocale : Activée
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  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Lecteur d’écran : Pris en charge
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 3.0 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°229.318 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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très informatif - une vraie exploration de découverte de comment les langues ont évoluées - lire ce livre, c'est un vrai régal!!!
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well, I knew this was not an academic work: if you are a linguist, to avoid, if you are not a linguist, enjoy it.
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2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
2.0 étoiles sur 5 KINDLE VERSION UNREADABLE IN PARTS 13 avril 2017
Par Jean-Michel. Gabet - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is a very intelligent book, written with deep knowledge and humor. One is bound to learn quite a bit from the contents of the book. Among other things it aims at explaining the relationships that exist between language and mental evolution, social evolution and cultural evolution, which is what humans are about. But for the grace of me, I cannot understand how Amazon can release Kindle versions of books where some portions of the text are POSITIVELY UNREADABLE. The font is microscopic, causing the reader to have to skip some of the text. In my view this is quite inexcusable, as the technology is there to avoid the problem. This reflects at best a sense of carelessness from the people in charge of formatting the Kindle text, at worst a complete contempt toward the customer. A book SHOULD NOT BE KINDLE-RELEASED if it is not 100% readable. A lot still has to be done to make Kindle books at par with printed material. (Note: I have Kindle Paper White, one of the latest devices available.)
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Fascinating - Even for an Amatuer 4 janvier 2017
Par Paula Braley - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
Although Guy Deutscher begins The Unfolding of Language by stating that language is humankind’s greatest invention, he immediately follows by saying language is not an invention at all (1). Enthralled with words more than anyone I’ve ever read, Deutscher, in The Unfolding of Language, examines, strokes, and makes love to words of nearly every language in the history of the world.

A slight caveat. Readers seeking the source of Deutscher’s inspiration for his second book and the answer to the question ‘why do colors of the world look different in other languages’ will not find them in his first book. Although some similarities exist (mostly regarding gendered words), only one paragraph discusses the origin of color-words (236-7).

The definitive difference in the approach to language that I can discern between the two books is that Deutscher wrote The Unfolding of Language for linguists. No one but a linguist would wade joyfully through hundreds of examples of disparate word endings, beginnings, and missing middle words. Through the Language Glass is easier to read, but lacks the linguistic history of The Unfolding of Language, and appears to be written more for the dilettante than the serious linguist.

Although the foregoing brief critique may sound harsh, do not make the mistake of thinking The Unfolding of Language is an uninteresting book. On the contrary, it is fascinating – even for an amateur.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
3.0 étoiles sur 5 Good for general audience 20 mai 2016
Par Rich72 - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
Having studied linguistics, I found the book covering some of the basic principles of langue and its evolution. The author writes well, but sometimes supplied a lot more examples of the same concept than is warranted. A good introduction for the general public, a bit elementary for the linguist.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 For those interested in the "nuts and bolts" of language change 19 mai 2015
Par The Old Prof - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This book is not about the “history” of language—although he does refer to the historic past in various places in his book. Nor is it about proto-history of language—although he does refer to proto-history of language as it can occasionally be reconstructed. This is about the nuts and bolts—the mechanical processes that change language over millennia.

In a creative and sometimes entertaining way, Deutcher leads his reader through the maze of linguistics to describe the many things that will change language. For his illustrations he draws not only from the Indo-European languages (English, French, German, Greek, Latin, etc.) but also from such Semitic languages (Afro-Asiatic) as Arabic and Hebrew and occasionaly Egyptian and Akkadian. He draws also from ancient Sumerian as well as modern Turkish. He goes into Nilo-Saharan and Yoruba in Africa as well as Australian Aborigine. All of these resources provide him with the illustrations of the variations and changes that can happen in language.

He sums up the major factors that cause change in topics such as “erosion” “metaphor” and “analogy.” I have mostly good vibes about Deutcher’s study. In my opinion, however, I think it is a dubious effort to study English or German (Indo-European languages) to get insight into the Semitic languages (see p. 193 in his book). Also, he tries to illustrate the templates of the Semitic languages where vowels can get plugged into the slots of the template to provide the nuances of meaning. I wonder if this is perhaps too complicated for non-Semitic persons. (See p. 206).

Deutscher is correct to emphasize that language is evidence of symbolic thought. And he acknowledges that language only goes back about 5,000 years. However, archaeologist have shown that humans have been engaged in symbolic thought going back many thousands of years more. See the studies of Denise Schmandt-Besserat ( in Before Writing, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1992) who explicated the presence of clay tokens in ancient pre-literate Mesopotamian culture which seem likely to have been the forerunners of the pictographic and then the cuneiform writing that became so common after 3000 BCE. But even before that as exemplified by the studies of Alexander Marshack in The Roots of Civilization: The Cognitive Beginnings of Man’s First Art, Symbol and Notation, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1972. With this in mind, Deutscher’s “erosion”, “metaphor” and “analogy” would have happened over and over again. It is no wonder that we cannot really get back to the oldest language. Deutscher’s contributions, as good as they are, are often more or less speculative. But he make a valiant effort to share with the popular reader how the more recent history of language changed and how it might have happened much further back in time.

I like to read books that make me think, and this one does. On p. 252 he says: “Similar developments from possession to obligation can be observed in languages all over the world, and the image behind them seems to be that one is responsible for the things in one’s possession, so if an action “belongs’ to you, it belongs to your sphere of responsibility, and so it is your duty to do it.” Now, I ask myself, what will happen to language (and the responsibilities behind it) when our world becomes increasingly “self-oriented” as opposed to “other oriented”? Will it become ever more like the hints made by the French social commentator, Alexis de Toqueville, who, taking an idea from Plutarch’s Moralia, predicted that (in Democracy in America [various versions/publishers]) we would eventually become anarchic! I fear we are already there! The implications worry me.
This book is accompanied by five appendices—the last of which discusses the Turkish language—a very helpful set of endnotes, a seven page glossary, a wonderful bibliography and a useful index. If a reader is interested in the mechanisms that change living language, this book is a good one for your shelf.
2 internautes sur 2 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Creative destruction in philology--brilliantly elaborated 7 juillet 2014
Par SiteReader - Publié sur
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
A brilliant solution to the conundrum: why does language so often proceed from more to less complex structure, as one sees in comparing Sanskrit, ancient Greek, or Latin to the derived modern languages? Filled with fascinating and informative examples of the continual and ongoing "degeneration" of language, the author is quite versed in changes in English back to the Anglo-Saxon era, as well as other Indo-European languages. I wish I had known his explanation for the origin of the system of declensions and conjugations when I was studying Latin in high school. My fascination with this question, when I later studied, French, Spanish, and German in college, is what led me to a life-long interest in philology. The author is also a native speaker of modern Hebrew and quite knowledgable in ancient Semitic languages. His explanation of the evolution of the 3-consonant root characteristic of Semitic languages is informative as well as fascinating.

The only shortcoming I find is that the thesis is presented without reference to who discovered it. If it is entirely the work of the author, this should be stated; or the contributions of others should be acknowledged. It is not so much a matter of who gets the credit, as to understand the evolution of the concepts. The view he puts forth is undoubtedly quite controversial in academic circles, and one suspects that this is the reason for his omitting this aspect of the subject. Perhaps he drew the lesson from the reception given Merritt Ruhlen, who is often criticized for being overly polemical in his advocacy of Greenberg's work pointing to monogenesis. The reactionary nature of academia when confronted with a new paradigm is well-known, and as bad, or worse, in the field of philology as in any other.

The author's work rates 5 stars in my view. I have reduced my review of the product review to 4 stars because of a production defect in two successive copies I received from Amazon. I returned one copy but received a replacement with the same defect-- a small pucker in all the central pages, probably caused by the fingers of the stitcher grasping too tightly. One expects a perfect copy when buying a new book. Although a minor annoyance, it did not affect the readability of the type, and is not noticeable from the outside.
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