You Are What You Speak Grammar Grouches, Language Laws, and the Politics of Identity

ISBN-10: 0553807870

ISBN-13: 9780553807875

Edition: 2010

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Description: What is it about other peoplers"s language that moves some of us to anxiety or even rage? For centuries, sticklers the world over have donned the cloak of authority to control the way people use words. Now this sensational new book strikes back to defend the fascinating, real-life diversity of this most basic human faculty. With the erudite yet accessible style that marks his work as a journalist, Robert Lane Greene takes readers on a rollicking tour around the world, illustrating with vivid anecdotes the role language beliefs play in shaping our identities, for good and ill. Beginning with literal myths, from the Tower of Babel to the bloody origins of the word "shibboleth," Greene shows how language "experts" went from myth-making to rule-making and from building cohesive communities to building modern nations. From the notion of one languagers"s superiority to the common perception that phrases like "Itrs"s me" are "bad English," linguistic beliefs too often define "us" and distance "them," supporting class, ethnic, or national prejudices. In short: What we hear about language is often really about the politics of identity. Governments foolishly try to police language development (the French Academy), nationalism leads to the violent suppression of minority languages (Kurdish and Basque), and even Americans fear that the most successful language in world history (English) may be threatened by increased immigration. These false language beliefs are often tied to harmful political ends and can lead to the violation of basic human rights. Conversely, political involvement in language can sometimes prove beneficial, as with the Zionist revival of Hebrew or our present-day efforts to provide education in foreign languages essential to business, diplomacy, and intelligence. And yes, standardized languages play a crucial role in uniting modern societies. As this fascinating book shows, everything wers"ve been taught to think about language may not be wrong-but it is often about something more than language alone.You Are What You Speakwill certainly get people talking.

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Book details

List price: $28.95
Copyright year: 2010
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 3/8/2011
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 336
Size: 5.75" wide x 8.50" long x 1.50" tall
Weight: 1.298
Language: English

Recently retired, TAITETSU UNNO, Ph.D., was the Jill Ker Conway Professor of Religion at Smith College. He travels throughout the world as a lecturer on Japanese Buddhism, religion, and culture. He lives in Northhampton, Massachussetts."From the Trade Paperback edition."

Foreword
Preface
Babel and the Damage Done
Language and Myth
A Brief History of Sticklers
In the Trenches with the Grammar Grouches
Another Way to Love Language
The Insights of Linguistics
More Equal than Others
How All Languages Can Express Almost Everything
Welcome to X. Now Speak Xish
Language and Nationalism
Insubordinate Clauses
The Folly of Legislating Language Rules
The Microsoft and Apple of Languages
America, France, and Languages in Competition
Clouds, Not Boxes
And Other Better Ways of Thinking About Language
Acknowledgments
Notes
Index
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