The Story of Human Language Complete Set Paperback – January 1, 2004
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By Jennifer Lynn Thompson on December 13, 2019
I was dismayed by the assertion in chapter 7 that "no one actually enjoys Shakespeare," because - dude, your opinion is not the same as fact, especially when critiquing a play you claim not to have even read (Tempest).
I was further dismayed by the comment that "you may look at this grammar and think that Chinese speakers are aliens" because that's really freaking racist. I didn't enjoy the comment that Europeans not having ice in their drinks means they drink "warm swill," because cultural narrow-mindedness much?
But when he said that the ancestor of the horse was "knee high, small enough to kick without getting hurt back" - I mean.
I don't want to hear a lecture from someone who's a bad person.
McWhorter's real talent is making a very intricate and deep subject amazingly approachable and memorable. When you listen to each lecture, you learn about language in terms of sounds changing (vowels, consonants, "fragile" H's, T's to D' s and so much more) and you also get a feel for the vast migration of humans from parts of the world to distant regions; how did Austronesians get from (maybe) Borneo to Madagascar in Africa--and retain their language? Fascinating.
You can buy a print book but the audiobook comes with a PDF of slides and text and it's great listening.
I could listen to him all day. There are 35 hours of good stuff here so plenty of enjoyable listening and you will have a fantastic feel for the subject of language when you complete the course. Will you have done Linguistics 101? No indeed. But you will have a wonderful idea of how great our ability to create language and how unique to humans.
Can't recommend enough.