lplp_41-2_pb

Advance Praise for Languages of the World is IN!

The second edition of Languages of the World: An Introduction is on its way to booksellers near you! Advance praise is now up on Cambridge University Press website (thanks to Marie-Lucie Tarpent for pointing it out to me!):

‘This book is unique, there are no other books like it.’

Bradley Montgomery-Anderson, Northeastern State University, Oklahoma

‘… there is no other material at present which so exactly fits the needs of our course … the text is really reader-friendly, a pleasure to use in class, and popular with the students. The inclusion of assignments and exercises in every chapter is a very valuable addition, and the addition of different kinds of boxes with further information makes the reading process more flexible and multi-dimensional.’

Arthur Holmer, Lunds Universitet, Sweden

You can pre-order your copy (available in September) from Cambridge University Press.

In the meantime, next Saturday I am going to teach an all-day workshop on Languages of the World. You can still sign up here.

 

 

 

lplp_41-2_pb

“The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep”, by David Satter

This past weekend I’ve been reading an excellent book by David Satter, The Less You Know, the Better You Sleep, a real page-turner which reads as a mix of investigative journalism and a whodunit (buy it on Amazon). Satter sheds a compelling light on disturbing yet persuasive evidence that Putin’s “dunit”: he and his circle are implicated in a series of crimes, including the bombing of apartment buildings in Moscow, Buinaksk, and Volgodonsk in 1999, the Nord-Ost theater siege in 2002, the Beslan school siege in 2004, and murders of ex-KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko, journalist Anna Politkovskaya, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and scores of others who challenged Putin’s regime. (Satter himself, it must be added, has been expelled from Russia due to his investigative activities and writings.) In the conclusion (p. 172), Satter notes that although the evidence is circumstantial, its totality “presents a picture of guilt so convincing that were it presented against an individual in a criminal case, the verdict would be obvious and incontrovertible”. The only reason why “the Putin regime never faced a court of law [is] because it controlled the judicial process and was in a position to seize and then hide or destroy the evidence”. It is, therefore, a cautionary tale (as if the world needed another one!) about the dangers of an autocratic dictatorship and a “power vertical”.

In this book, as in his earlier book The Age of Delirium, Satter shows a clear understanding of what’s been going on in Russia: it’s not “just like America”, only people there speak Russian, drink vodka, and have bears walk the streets. Russia (in the sense of its ruling regime) operates by different rules entirely. Satter writes (p. xiv):

Understanding Russia is actually very easy, but one must teach oneself to do something that is very hard—to believe the unbelievable. Westerners become confused because they approach Russia with a Western frame of reference, not realizing that Russia is a universe based on a completely different set of values. If a Westerner takes it for granted that the individual has inherent worth and is not just raw material for the deluded schemes of corrupt political leaders, he may not realize that in Russia this outlook is not widely shared. To grasp the reality of Russia, it is necessary to accept that Russian leaders really are capable of blowing up hundreds of their own people to preserve their hold on power. They really are capable of ordering an attack with flamethrowers on a gymnasium full of defenseless parents and children. Once one accepts that the impossible is really possible, the degradation of the Yeltsin years and Vladimir Putin’s rise of power make perfect sense.

Tomorrow, my Russian film class is watching Andrey Zviagintsev’s Leviathan, an equally disturbing view of what the regime that’s capable of waging war on its own people looks like from the perspective of those people.

lplp_41-2_pb

2nd Edition of Languages of the World Coming Out Soon!

The 2nd edition of my textbook, Languages of the World: An Introduction is being published by Cambridge University Press. It is due to be released on September 30, 2017. Pre-order your copy from Amazon today!

  • If you crave to learn about the world’s languages, both seemingly familiar and exotic…
  • If you welcome an opportunity to explore languages without the tiresome process of learning to speak them…
  • If you are curious to know what all human languages have in common and in what ways they differ…
  • If a typical “Introduction to Linguistics” textbook scares you with its technical nature or Anglo-centricity…
  • If academically-oriented grammatical descriptions of languages seem too boring and inaccessible…
  • If you are curious about language relatedness and interactions between languages…
  • If you seek to know how language can be used to trace different peoples and their past…
  • If you want to see a connection between linguistics and other disciplines, such as history or genetics…
  • If you look for an engaging and intellectually stimulating reading that gives you the thrill of discovery…
  • If you wish to travel the world without leaving your cosy armchair…

…Then this book is for you!

Helpful features include 18 charts of family classifications, index of languages and general index, glossary, and bibliography to guide further reading.

The book has been thoroughly revised from the 1st edition:

  • Two new chapters have been added: chapter 3 “Languages of Iran and South Asia” and chapter 4 “Languages of Northern Eurasia”
  • New sections have been added to existing chapters, for example, section 1.4 “Focus on: How do languages diversify?” and section 8.4 “Korean and Japanese”
  • Several new textboxes have been added, for example “Adamorobe Sign Language” and “Indigenous African Writing Systems” in chapter 7
  • Numerous “Did you know?” boxes have been added
  • Some of the harder, more technical linguistic material has been set aside into “Advanced” sections, which can be assigned for more advanced students but omitted with a more beginners audience. Each chapter has one or more “Advanced” sections.
  • Each chapter now has a set of five assignments, including guided projects for online exploration, discussion questions, and problem sets based on data from unfamiliar languages.
  • The text has been fact checked and edited with additional passages added in various places.
  • The bibliography, glossary and indexes have been updated.

The 1st edition can still be purchased at Amazon, directly from Cambridge University Press, or from booksellers worldwide.