By Michael Erard
All of us study at the very least one language as young ones. yet what does it take to benefit six languages, twenty . . . seventy? Such feats of linguistic prowess supply a glimpse into what the human mind is able of—and delay a replicate to our wish to dwell with no language obstacles on a shrinking planet. In Babel No More, Michael Erard, “a monolingual with benefits,” units out on a quest to fulfill language superlearners and make experience in their psychological powers. at the method he uncovers the secrets and techniques of ancient figures just like the nineteenth-century Italian cardinal Giuseppe Mezzofanti, who was once stated to talk seventy-two languages and used to be this type of legend that after he died humans far and wide Europe vied for his cranium. Emil Krebs, a pugnacious fin de siÈcle German diplomat, spoke sixty-eight languages, and Erard sees the facts of this in Krebs’s dissected mind. Lomb KatÓ, a Hungarian hyperpolyglot who taught herself Russian by means of examining Russian romance novels, believed that “one learns grammar from language, now not language from grammar.” those sizeable multilinguals have lengthy provided a ordinary test into the boundaries of the mind; the following, ultimately, we will check up on the consequences.
On his solution to monitoring down the single guy who might be known as the main linguistically proficient individual on this planet, Erard meets different residing language-superlearners. between them is Alexander, a modern day polyglot with dozens of languages who exhibits him the tips of the alternate and offers him a dismal glimpse into the lifetime of obsessive language acquisition. “I got here to think about him as a holy man,” writes Erard. “Others do yoga; Alexander does grammatical exercises.”
With his bold exam of what language is, the place it lives within the mind, and the cultural implications of polyglots’ ambitions, Erard explores the higher limits of our skill to profit and to exploit languages, and illuminates the highbrow power in every body. How do a little humans get away the curse of Babel—and what may perhaps the gods have demanded of them in go back?
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Extra info for Babel No More: The Search for the World's Most Extraordinary Language Learners
Fischer, W. 1982b. Frühe Zeugnisse des Neuarabischen. In Grundriß der arabischen Philologie, Vol. I: Sprachwissenschaft, W. ), 83–95. Wiesbaden: Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag. Fischer, W. & Jastrow, O. (eds). 1980. S. 16]. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz. Garbini, G. 1972. Le lingue semitiche: Studi di storia linguistica. Naples: Istituto Universitario Orientale. Gaudefroy-Demombynes, M. & Blachère, R. 1937. Grammaire de l’arabe classique. P. Maisonneuve. Goldenberg, G. 1977. The semitic languages of Ethiopia and their classification.
1978. Introduction to Classical Ethiopic (Gecez) [Harvard Semitic Studies 24] Ann Arbor MI: Scholars Press. Leslau, W. 1951. Archaic features in South Ethiopic. Journal of the American Oriental Society 71: 212–230. Leslau, W. 1958. The verb in Harari (South Ethiopic). Berkeley CA: University of California Press. Leslau, W. 1963. Etymological dictionary of Harari. Berkeley CA: University of California Press. Marrassini, P. 2003. Sur le sud-sémitique: Problèmes de définition. In Mélanges David Cohen, J.
Koranic Arabic is thus certainly different from how the people of the northern Arabian Peninsula spoke in their ordinary lives in the 6th and 7th centuries, even though it is not easy to tell exactly how much it differed (cf. Fischer 1982 a and 1982 b, and especially Owens 2006 for an updated assessment of the question). Gecez, on the other hand, is the language of the great inscriptions of the Axumite kings who ruled in northern Ethiopia between the 3rd and the 6th centuries CE, and of the Christian literature that flourished there starting from the 4th century.