David Shariatmadari is a writer and editor at the Guardian. He studied Linguistics at Cambridge University and the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, where he now lives.
Wonderful. David Shariatmadari wears his deep learning with such an admirable and alluring lightness of touch. He brilliantly swats away the pesky 'language guardian' flies, whose misbegotten pedantries and ignorant persnicketiness are the real threats to living language. You finish the book more alive than ever to the enduring mystery and miracle of that thing that makes us most human, the gift of language that was bestowed upon us so astonishingly recently in evolutionary time and that has made us everything that we are . . . for good or ill David Shariatmadari translates the often arcane theories of linguistics into a sequence of accessible ideas and theories, making us look afresh at the language we speak and how it structures our intimacies, our thoughts, and our identities. Wry and immensely intelligent, this learned book awakens us to complexities of communication that we too readily ignore, and it does so with both deep scholarship and a light touch A skilful summation of the latest research on how languages emerge, change, convey meaning and influence how we think . . . a meaty, rewarding and necessary read - GUARDIAN This lucid examination of linguistics entertains as much as it informs . . . above all, this is a generous and enthralling study of the basis of how we communicate - OBSERVER Fascinating and thought-provoking . . . crammed with weird and wonderful facts. Don't Believe a Word is a serious piece of research, cogently and carefully presented . . . for anyone who delights in linguistics it's a richly rewarding read - MAIL ON SUNDAY