A celebration of the huge linguistic diversity that is open to all of us at birth, and that has inspired and fascinated humans since the invention of speech.
A celebration of the huge linguistic diversity that is open to all of us at birth, and that has inspired and fascinated humans since the invention of speech This book opens with the first sounds a child hears in their mother's womb and their capacity for quickly learning more than one language. Hardach explores how this capacity has always been a necessary and normal aspect of human behaviour, from the earliest evidence of writing in different languages on Mesopotamian clay tablets to the role of trade in transmitting words across cultures and continents through families of multilingual merchants. She takes us into the 'book cemeteries' of medieval synagogues; describes the riddles of hieroglyphics and cuneiform, and the long struggle to decipher them; discovers the enigmatic lost language of Cypro-Minoan Britain; and reminds us, in an era of resurgent nationalism, that in the British Isles many languages have mingled in fruitful and fascinating ways. This is a book about languages and the people who love them. It is about the strange and wonderful ways in which humans have used languages since the days of the earliest clay records. About the linguistic threads that connect us all. Above all, it is about pleasure.
Sophie Hardach is the author of three novels, The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages , about Kurdish refugees, Of Love and Other Wars , about pacifists during World War Two, and Confession with Blue Horses , about the repercussions of the division of Germany on the lives of individuals. Also a journalist, she worked as a correspondent for Reuters news agency in Tokyo, Paris and Milan and and has written for a number of publications including the Guardian , BBC Future and The Economist .
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