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New Book by Guy Deutscher

Posted on Sunday, August 29, 2010 in Books, Natural Languages, Nonfiction

Cover of Through the Language Glass

One of my favorite books on language is Guy Deutscher’s The Unfolding of Language. It’s accessible, informative, and just a lot of fun to read. Well, I just discovered that he’ll be coming out with a new one on August 31 (That’s in 2 days!): Through the Language Glass. Here’s the product description from

Linguistics has long shied away from claiming any link between a language and the culture of its speakers: too much simplistic (even bigoted) chatter about the romance of Italian and the goose-stepping orderliness of German has made serious thinkers wary of the entire subject. But now, acclaimed linguist Guy Deutscher has dared to reopen the issue. Can culture influence language—and vice versa? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? Could our experience of the world depend on whether our language has a word for “blue”?

Challenging the consensus that the fundaments of language are hard-wired in our genes and thus universal, Deutscher argues that the answer to all these questions is—yes. In thrilling fashion, he takes us from Homer to Darwin, from Yale to the Amazon, from how to name the rainbow to why Russian water—a “she”—becomes a “he” once you dip a tea bag into her, demonstrating that language does in fact reflect culture in ways that are anything but trivial. Audacious, delightful, and field-changing, Through the Language Glass is a classic of intellectual discovery.

Of course, I haven’t read it yet, but I’m looking forward to posting a review. There is an adaptation from an excerpt posted as an article online: “Does Your Language Shape How You Think?”. It’ll be interesting to see Deutscher’s take on the classic debate. Can’t wait.