A linguist’s entertaining and highly informed guide to what languages are and how they function.
Think you know language? Think again.
There are languages that change when your mother-in-law is present. The language you speak could make you more prone to accidents. Swear words are produced in a special part of your brain.
Over the past few decades, we have reached new frontiers of linguistic knowledge. Linguists can now explain how and why language changes, describe its structures, and map its activity in the brain. But despite these advances, much of what people believe about language is based on folklore, instinct, or hearsay. We imagine a word’s origin is it’s “true” meaning, that foreign languages are full of “untranslatable” words, or that grammatical mistakes undermine English.
In Don’t Believe A Word, linguist David Shariatmadari takes us on a mind-boggling journey through the science of language, urging us to abandon our prejudices in a bid to uncover the (far more interesting) truth about what we do with words.
Exploding nine widely held myths about language while introducing us to some of the fundamental insights of modern linguistics, Shariatmadari is an energetic guide to the beauty and quirkiness of humanity’s greatest achievement.