Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic

Elizabeth Little, Author . Melville $21.95 (180p) ISBN 978-1-933633-33-6

In her debut book, writer and editor Little searches in “linguistic nooks and crannies” for the “quirks, innovations and implausibilities of the world’s languages,” threading witty pop culture references through tapestries of language trivia written with the not-so-linguistic reader in mind. (The title refers to the mistranslation in Chinese of “Coca-Cola.”) Little strips linguistics of its academic drudgery, showing how the Tangut language uses verbs by translating phrases like Johnny Cash’s lyric “I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die”; referring to pop-culture icons like Al Gore, Jabba the Hutt and the Smurfs to get the point across; and covering every language from Yoruba, a West African language, to the verbless Kelen, invented as an experiment by a Berkeley undergraduate. The book contains charming anecdotes, witty sidebars, attractive illustrations (by Ayumi Piland) and comprehensive linguistics lessons on topics ranging from the well-known (“Verbs conjugate, nouns decline”) to the obscure (the disjunctive adjective: “The most infamous English example is 'hopefully,’ that famed bête noir of addled prescriptionist fussbudgets”). Little’s strong sense of humor never overwhelms her love of languages in this fascinating yet educational introduction to linguistics for a wide, pop-savvy audience. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 10/15/2007
Release date: 11/01/2007
Show other formats
FORMATS
Hardcover - 199 pages - 978-0-14-103644-1
Paperback - 186 pages - 978-0-385-52774-3
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Only $18.95/month for Digital Access
or $20.95 for Print+Digital Access!
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

PW has integrated its print and digital subscriptions, offering exciting new benefits to subscribers, who are now entitled to both the print edition and the digital editions of PW (online or via our app). For instructions on how to set up your accout for digital access, click here. For more information, click here.

The part of the site you are trying to access is now available to subscribers only. Subscribers: to set up your digital subscription with the new system (if you have not done so already), click here. To subscribe, click here.

Email pw@pubservice.com with questions.

Not Registered? Click here.