In this work, the author shares his expertise as a linguist to introduce us to Russonorsk, a creole of Russian and Norwegian once spoken by trading fur trappers in the summer, the ways in which Yiddish, a dialect of German, has been influenced by the grammar of Polish and a dialect of an Australian aboriginal language which only has three verbs. Along the way we learn how English absorbed French at two stages of its history, giving us Norman French warranty and the standard French guarantee, while Japanese has been infused with Chinese vocabulary at four distinct periods, and that Danish, Norwegian and Swedish are best regarded as three dialects of Scandinavian.
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Praise for John McWhorter
McWhorter's arguments are sharply reasoned, refreshingly honest, and thoroughly original, and befitting a book on language, they are lucidly and elegantly expressed.
-- Steven Pinker, author of The Language Instinct and How the Mind Works
McWhorter has done an admirable job of bridging the gap between the linguists' view of language and the public's.
-- Philip Herbst, Booklist
Whatever one's opinion on particular cases, it is indisputable that Mr. McWhorter is a lively judge of the English language, and a sober judge of all disputes that swirl around it.
-- Sanford Pinsker, The Wall Street Journal (from reviews of Word on the Street)
John McWhorter is Associate Professor of Linguistics at UC Berkeley.
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