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"Guy Deutscher is that rare beast, an academic who talks good sense about linguistics... he argues in a playful and provocative way, that our mother tongue does indeed affect how we think and, just as important, how we perceive the world." Observer
*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, acclaimed author Guy Deutscher will convince you that, contrary to the fashionable academic consensus of today, the answer to all these questions is - yes. A delightful amalgam of cultural history and popular science, this book explores some of the most fascinating and controversial questions about language, culture and the human mind.
This fascinating pop-linguistics study contends that how we talk influences how we think about the world, from the way we give directions to the colors poets see. Drawing on everything from classics to anthropology and brain scans, linguist Deutscher (The Unfolding of Language) abjures the crude notion that language makes Italians frivolous or gives Hopis a mystical disregard for time. Rather, he insists that linguistic conventions subtly alter basic perceptions. The examples he highlights are delightful and thought-provoking: speakers of languages, such as French and German, in which inanimate objects have gender actually associate gendered qualities with objects; speakers of the Australian Guugu Yimithirr language denote spatial relationships by cardinal points " look out for that big ant just north of your foot'" and therefore develop an internal compass that puts a GPS to shame. The author upsets a few linguistics apple carts, challenging both Noam Chomsky's theory of an innate human grammar and Steven Pinker's view of language as a cognitively neutral system for representing the environment. Deutscher's erudite yet entertaining arguments (and cunning illustrations) usually stick; they make for a fascinating exploration of culture's ability to shape the mind. Photos.