Languages! You speak one. Maybe you even speak more than one. I speak either two (English and German) or four (also Russian and French), depending on how generous your definition of “speak” is. I also like to dabble in bits of other languages whenever I can. Cheeky Swedish course? Check. Read some Harry Potter in Dutch? You betcha. So when I missed my bus home last winter and I was sheltering from the cold in Waterstones, this little fella caught my eye:
Languages scare English native speakers. I know, I know. I’m a trainee German teacher, and I am fully aware that a lot of people think that they “can’t do” foreign languages. Firstly, that’s not true at all. And secondly, I promise you don’t need any advanced linguistics training to read this book.
The writing is great. Sharp, funny, clear. And the book changes style from chapter to chapter – some of it is written in the style of a propaganda broadcast, some as a conversation between a woman and her doctor, and some are straight up explanations. Each chapter takes on a different language and examines a particular aspect of it, from crazy spelling to fast-talkin’ natives, including words that language has contributed to English – and some that we should think about adopting.
The book covers a good mix of languages – including ones I’d never heard of, like Galician and Sorbian; ones I’ve seen but know nothing about, like Hungarian and Scottish Gaelic; and everyone’s old favourites, like French and Spanish.
I haven’t been able to find all that much information on the author, but I believe English isn’t even his first language, which makes the writing doubly impressive. Seeing as you’re reading this, you can’t be opposed to a blog or two – and you can check out his blog, Language Writer, here. (Of als je wilt, de nederlandse versie.) And for my part – I think you should go and buy Lingo now.