Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages - Guy Deutscher

To tell someone how to find your house, you can direct them to go left then right, or you can say “head east for half a mile.” These two options are available to English speakers, that is. For Australian aboriginal speakers of Guuga  Yimithirr, only the latter mode is possible, as their language lacks an “egocentric” vocabulary of “left, “right,” “in front of,” and “behind.” In his fascinating trip THROUGH THE LANGUAGE GLASS (Metropolitan, $28), Guy Deutscher, author of The Unfolding of Language, investigates how language shapes, expands, and constrains human world views—or doesn’t. Does speaking a language that genders objects reflect a greater sensitivity to essential male and female traits than one, like English, in which all objects are “it”? Do speakers of languages that combine nouns and verbs see the world differently from those who need two words to describe an object in action? To address questions of individual languages and universal experience, Deutscher focuses on colors. “Why is the sky blue?” might seem to be a basic, formative question, but for linguists the first inquiry is “where is the ‘blue’?” Blue—or just “blue”—is absent from Homer’s epics, rich in descriptions and other colors though they are.

Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780312610494
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - August 30th, 2011

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