Planet WordBook - 2011
According to the Snohomish tribe of North America, we speak different languages today because of a row about a duck. There are more than 6,000 languages spoken in the world, some by only a handful, but by the end of the century there will be just 900 left. Why does linguicide occur and what are its consequences?
Do you 'take a bath' or 'have a bath', do you use a 'napkin' or a 'serviette' and are you wearing 'spectacles' to read this or your 'glasses'? How we speak and what we say (or don't say) reveals so much about our identity but does where we come from influence how we think? Does a Frenchman better understand love or a German-speaker have a more technical way of looking at the world?
Learn the tricks to political propaganda, why we can talk but animals can't, discover 3,000 year-old clay tablets that discussed beer and impotence and test yourself at textese - do you know your RMEs from your LOLs? Meet the 105-year-old man who invented modern-day Chinese and all but eradicated illiteracy, and find out why language caused the go-light in Japan to be blue.
Planet Word uncovers everything you didn't know you needed to know about how language evolves- from feral children to deaf Tourette's, fairy-tale princesses and wicked stepmothers to secrets codes, invented languages, backslang - even a language that was eaten! And of course the Del Boys of London with all their 'sugar and honey' and 'porky pies' make themselves known.
Why do people twenty miles from Barnsley live in an 'arse' - and why is it so important that they continue to do so. Why must we keep words like 'lenerky', 'gloppened' and deedars' in use - and why do we all suddenly love the Geordie accent? From the dusty scrolls of the past to the unknown digital future, will we no longer have need for a written language and instead communicate in pictures and symbols? With (heart) the first graphic to enter the OED, are we already well on our way?
In a round-the-world trip of a lifetime, discover all this and more as J. P. Davidson travels across our gloriously, endlessly intriguing multi-lingual Planet Word.