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Don't Believe A Word

The Surprising Truth About Language

David Shariatmadari



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Weidenfeld & Nicolson
22 August 2019
'Wonderful ... You finish the book more alive than ever to the enduring mystery and miracle of that thing that makes us most human' Stephen Fry 'Fascinating and thought-provoking . . . crammed with weird and wonderful facts' MAIL ON SUNDAY THINK YOU KNOW LANGUAGE? THINK AGAIN A word's origin doesn't tell you what it means today There are languages that change when your mother-in-law is present Mistakes don't undermine English, they lay its foundations The language you speak could make you more prone to accidents 'Untranslatable' words are usually anything but There's a special part of the brain that produces swear words The truth is so much more interesting than the rumours . . .

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 most of us know as much about language today as we did about physics before Galileo, and the little we know is still largely based on folklore, instinct or hearsay.

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, David Shariatmadari is an energetic guide to the beauty and quirkiness of humanity's greatest achievement.
By:   David Shariatmadari
Imprint:   Weidenfeld & Nicolson
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 220mm,  Width: 142mm,  Spine: 36mm
Weight:   440g
ISBN:   9781474608435
ISBN 10:   1474608434
Pages:   336
Publication Date:   22 August 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

Reviews for Don't Believe A Word: The Surprising Truth About Language

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

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