Mother Tongue: How Humans Create Language

Joel Davis, Author
Joel Davis, Author Carol Publishing Corporation $21.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-55972-206-3
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Drawing on research in several fields, science journalist Davis ( Defending the Body: Unraveling the Mysteries of Immunology ) offers an engaging, if diffuse, study of the history and science of language. He first investigates the definition of language and the development of language family trees, focusing on the intricate evolution of English from its Germanic origins to the introduction of Romance words and ``the Great Vowel Shift'' of the 15th century. After surveying phonetics and linguistics, he analyzes how the brain processes language; how we learn language--a second language actually takes up a different section of the brain than the first language learned; and finally looks at the biological roots of human language. Davis makes sophisticated information accessible, but he sacrifices depth for breadth. Illustrations not seen by PW . (Feb.)
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