Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World

Guy Deutscher

Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World

Generalisations about language and culture are at best amusing and meaningless, but is there anything sensible left to be said about the relation between language, culture and thought? Does language reflect the culture of a society? Is our mother-tongue a lens through which we perceive the world? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? In "Through the Language Glass", Guy Deutscher tries to convince you that, contrary to the fashionable academic consensus of today, the answer to all these questions is - yes. On an odyssey that takes us from Homer to Darwin, from scientists to savages, from the corridors of Yale to the rivers of the Amazon, from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water - a 'she' - become a 'he' once you have dipped a tea bag into her, this book explores some of the most fascinating and controversial questions about language, culture and the human mind. 3.9 out of 5 based on 5 reviews
Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your World

Omniscore:

Classification Non-fiction
Genre Language & Linguistics
Format Hardback
Pages 320
RRP £20.00
Date of Publication June 2010
ISBN 978-0434016907
Publisher William Heinemann
 

Generalisations about language and culture are at best amusing and meaningless, but is there anything sensible left to be said about the relation between language, culture and thought? Does language reflect the culture of a society? Is our mother-tongue a lens through which we perceive the world? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? In "Through the Language Glass", Guy Deutscher tries to convince you that, contrary to the fashionable academic consensus of today, the answer to all these questions is - yes. On an odyssey that takes us from Homer to Darwin, from scientists to savages, from the corridors of Yale to the rivers of the Amazon, from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water - a 'she' - become a 'he' once you have dipped a tea bag into her, this book explores some of the most fascinating and controversial questions about language, culture and the human mind.

Reviews

The Financial Times

Clive Cookson

...a brilliant account of linguistic research over two centuries… As befits a book about language, this inspiring amalgam of cultural history and science is beautifully written.

21/06/2010

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The Spectator

Christopher Howse

It is a delight to read a book that probes the territory of semantics (which, like theology, is often used as a metaphor for pointless distinctions). The big objection, however, to the argument of Through the Language Glass is that the bulk of it discusses colour.

02/06/2010

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The Sunday Times

Sam Leith

...this fabulously interesting book describes an area of intellectual history replete with brilliant leaps of intuition and crazy dead-ends. Guy Deutscher, who combines enthusiasm with scholarly pugnacity — “How could such piffle be spouted by sober scientists?” he asks of one orthodoxy — is a vigorous and engaging guide to it.

20/06/2010

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The Guardian

Alex Bellos

...Deutscher hasn't really convinced me that language does have much of an effect on perception, at least not in any unexpected or, as he claims, "striking" ways. Still, his scholarly and eloquent prose made the book an enjoyable read and I learnt lots of great anecdotes along the way.

12/06/2010

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The Mail on Sunday

Craig Brown

Deutscher writes as clearly and engagingly as can be, but often he seems to get lost in the mud, and ends up switching sides, attacking his allies and defending his enemies. Other academic disciplines at least hold the promise of progress towards englightenment, but with the study of language it sometimes seems that the more you find out, the less you will ever know.

20/06/2010

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