By Gaston Dorren

ISBN-10: 1781254168

ISBN-13: 9781781254165

Welcome to Europe as you will have by no means recognized it prior to, visible in the course of the peculiarities of its languages and dialects. Combining linguistics and cultural historical past, Gaston Dorren takes us on an fascinating travel of the continent, from Proto-Indo-European (the universal ancestor of so much ecu languages) to the increase and upward push of English, through the complexities of Welsh plurals and Czech pronunciation. alongside the best way we study why Esperanto won't ever capture on, how the language of William the Conqueror lives on within the Channel Islands and why Finnish is the best ecu language.

Surprising, witty and whole of remarkable evidence, this ebook will switch how you take into consideration the languages round you. Polyglot Gaston Dorren may even convince you that English is like Chinese.

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Additional resources for Lingo: A Language Spotters Guide to Europe

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Julius Caesar would have turned over in his grave if he had seen what had become of the language he had introduced: of the six Latin cases, only three remained; neutral words had become masculine; and various tenses had changed beyond recognition. In addition to the dozens of Celtic words that had crept in earlier (charrue, ‘plough’; mouton, ‘sheep’), many hundreds of Frankish words now came flooding in (auberge, ‘inn’; blanc, ‘white’; choisir, ‘choose’). When an entire people speak a different language from their rulers, eventually one side has to yield.

And not only those of us who speak English, of course. Those who speak Dutch, too – which is practically the same thing. And German, which is not so different either. And Spanish and Polish and Greek, because if you look closely enough you’ll see that even they look a bit like English. Further afield there are other languages, like Armenian and Kurdish and Nepalese, where you have to look quite a bit harder still to see the family resemblance. But each and every one of them emerged from a language that was spoken by a people whose name we don’t know, perhaps sixty centuries ago.

The rise of what we now call the Romance languages began some time later. Kings such as Denis of Portugal and Alfonso X of Spain, literary greats such as Dante and institutions like the Académie Française helped to glue the shards of local dialects into languages that were used over larger areas, mostly in writing at first. The Big Five were the most successful: they became the official languages of nation states, and even – in the case of Spanish, Portuguese and French – of new empires. But other groups of Roman dialects also worked their way to full-blown language status.

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Lingo: A Language Spotters Guide to Europe by Gaston Dorren


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