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review 2017-02-11 02:08
Through the Language Glass
Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages - Guy Deutscher

Nonfiction book about languages and the effect on culture, or culture and the effect on languages. Depends on how you read it and what you think about it, really. Deutscher discusses at length various linguistic theories and how they have evolved over time as the scientific side of intellectual curiosity gained prominence and became more refined with the use of experiments and scientific method that weeded out human fallacies. (Or tried to, anyway!)

 

He starts and ends with color - the peculiarities of the vocabulary of color in Homer's Odyssey at the beginning of the book and the testing of color differentiation across various languages native speakers at the end of the book - and covers several other topics along the way. It is long and overly confusing at times because the author can't resist making a tangential joke that doesn't really add to your understanding of the subject; in fact, I'm inclined to believe it's more to do with page count requirements. Comprehensive reading of this book may require a graduate-level vocabulary and the high-brow humor may fly over the head of someone not looking for it. He does bring to light several experiments/studies that the general public would not be aware of and explains the reasons for their importance in laymen's terms, or makes an attempt at doing so at least.

 

It took me three-quarters of a year to read this book because I got stuck in the middle and was bored. I say this as person strongly interested in linguistics but not involved in any particular career related to the field, so this may be more geared to those with a professional rather than a casual interest in languages.

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review 2017-02-09 09:50
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse, and You Guys Talk
Speaking American: How Y'all, Youse , and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide - Josh Katz

Peregrinations mentioned this book in one of her posts and of course I had to immediately get it.  I live in a place where I am daily questioned on how I talk, and this has fostered a fascination with the English language and accents in particular.

 

This is a larger format book, not quite coffee table sized, but it could definitely hold its own with the art and architecture tomes.  Each page features large full color heat maps, showing the prevalence for one word over another (or one pronunciation over another) in each part of the country.  Some maps are mostly homogeneous ("roundabout"); some look as though someone drew a line through the country (usually an east/west line dividing north and south, of course) ("pyjamas").

 

MT and I had a great time comparing words and pronunciations, and laughing at the differences (and sometimes even similarities).  We had fun trying to figure out his spirit state, and while it became clear that I've picked up words and pronunciations from around the country (mostly Minnesota), I was happy to see that my language still places me firmly in my home state of Florida.

 

An interesting look at the differences between us that are fun rather than confronting and a great conversation starter.

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review 2017-01-30 06:12
i before e (except after c): Old School Ways to Remember Stuff
I Before E (Except After C): Old School Ways To Remember Stuff - Judy Parkinson

Who doesn't use:

 

Thirty days hath September, 

April, June and November,

all the rest have thirty-one...

 

to remind themselves which months have 30, 31 or 28 days?

 

This book is nothing but mnemonics like the above, for just about everything: spelling, grammar, mathematics, history, science, health and a few other odds and ends.

 

My mom used to teach me mnemonics as a little kid; mostly for spelling. (Geography and Mississippi.)  My dad taught me one for weather.  They were incredibly helpful for a kid trying to remember things that felt huge.  The geography and weather mnemonics, or variations of them, made it into the book, but am I the only one who learned how to spell Mississippi by saying:

 

M, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, crooked-letter, crooked-letter, I, hump-back, hump-back, I?

 

Anyway, this was a fun, quick read for a language lover and there were quite a few useful aides here for future Trivial Pursuit challenges. 

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review 2017-01-29 16:16
Be a Writer that You already are
Robot Coconut Trees: Break Through Writer's Block, Unleash Your Creative Voice, and Become the Writer You Already Are - Kelsey Horton

* I have received this book through Goodreads Giveaways and I will be leaving my honest and heartfelt opinion on it.

 

** Note: I apologise for the delay in posting my review but I didn't wish to do it in a hurry so I took my time, re-read some chapters, put a lot of sticky notes throughout and focused on some exercises so I can fully grasp and appreciate this work that I so kindly received from its author.

 


I will start by saying that 'Robot Coconut Trees' is the perfect title for this book. Everyone who has read it will appreciate it tremendously. And I love the cover, it is full of colour, full of inspiration... full of life.

 

This book is an inspirational, spiritual, self-help type of a book in which the writer, Kelsey Horton, helps all of us, her readers, to unleash our creative voices and to become Writers that we already are. But this book is not just that, it's very difficult to put books like this in strictly labelled boxes because this book grows and expands from chapter to chapter and teaches us not just how to become writers but also how to love and accept ourselves as we are, to get involved in our communities more, to put our hearts out there and to be ready to receive all the good and bad that could come from it.

 

When it comes to helping us in our becoming a writer process, despite having exercises and advices, this book focuses more on breaking through our inner restraints and learning how to accept that we already are writers rather than giving us more technical advice on the process itself. In my opinion, this doesn't take away anything from the book itself because there are plenty of people out there - myself included- who do need to hear this and who do need help with unleashing ourselves because we think that the world doesn't need our boring stories or our uninteresting mundane books. This is the book which I would recommend to people to start with so they can be in a right state of mind before they set out on that journey which will not only make them better writers but better and more fulfilled people in general.

 

 

"We read and write to cling to a flickering hope that someone out there feels the same clatter of discordant emotions that we do. We toss our words out to the sea and beg for someone to identify with what we are saying and break through the isolation."

 

 

And this, along with many other thoughts and statements like this one, is something that has helped me see, really see. I am a very realistic type of a person, with somewhat of a negative outlook on the world and mankind and the future before us. But seeing so many of my doubts and negative thoughts clearly reflected and dealt with in this book has helped me realise... I am not alone. I am not the only one who thinks like that or who feels this way. There is someone out there who understands that part of me and who has been in the same spot on this journey of self-realisation that I am right now. And I felt - liberated. Because I see this isn't the end, this isn't how I will always be like if I dare to step out of my little dark corner and share my thoughts and fears and desires with the world.

 

I have been on the similar path that the author has been on. I was a creative child, my work has been published in magazines for children, I wrote poems, I loved seeing my thoughts take solid form as I wrote them down on a piece of paper. But the world has a knack for keeping us down, confining us all in the same safe little fake lives that others expect from us to have (like adults saying that writing isn't a real job right before you need to choose your college and direction in life) and smothering our creativity until it all becomes acceptably grey and unnoticeable. And many people will stay safe in those little bubbles going through life without even noticing the change of colours around them. But there are those who at some point in their lives realise that basic truth that they are different, that they are unique, that they are colourful and that they don't want quiet and safe, they want exciting and heartfelt and unruly and amazing and heartbreaking and tearful... but real, emotional, ever-changing path that will lead them to greatness.

 

The only problem I could see some people having with this book is that it is fairly repetitive. And I do admit that sometimes it is. But I will argue that it needs to be. Because the author is doing her best to reach our inner writers, our inner shining marvels, and she can't do that if she lets her words fall flat saying them once just for the sake of having it in there. She needs to repeat her convictions and encouragements and advices and positive thoughts so it will get through to us, so that it will break down our walls and touch our hearts.

 

On a final note, I will leave you all with a beautiful thought from our dear author which I have read many times over and which has made me a much happier me.

 

 

"This Universe is not a withholding universe: we can't 'blow it', we can't 'miss our chance' or 'throw that opportunity away' or fall prey to any other slew of imaginary failure stories. If we miss the boat once, a new boat will come around again - our boat this time, the boat that is a little more perfect for us. The boat we should have taken all along."

 


* This review has also been posted on my Goodreads page:  https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1895799646

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quote 2017-01-28 02:19

Supposing eternal spring on the earth; supposing plenty of water, livestock, and pasture, and supposing that men, as they leave the hands of nature, were once spread out in the midst of all that, I cannot imagine how they would ever be induced to give up their primitive liberty, abandoning the isolated pastoral life so fitted to their natural indolence, to impose on themselves unnecessarily the labors and the inevitable misery of a social mode of life.


On the Origin of Language - Jean-Jacques Rousseau,Johann Gottfried Herder,John H. Moran,Alexander Gode


Jean-Jacques Rousseau
On the Origin of Languages

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