It is tempting to take the tremendous rate of contemporary linguistic change for granted. What is required, in fact, is a radical reinterpretation of what language is. Steven Roger Fischer begins his book with an examination of the modes of communication used by dolphins, birds and primates as the first contexts in which the concept of 'language' might be applied. As he charts the history of language from the times of Homo erectus, Neanderthal humans and Homo sapiens through to the nineteenth century, when the science of linguistics was developed, Fischer analyses the emergence of language as a science and its development as a written form. He considers the rise of pidgin, creole, jargon and slang, as well as the effects radio and television, propaganda, advertising and the media are having on language today. Looking to the future, he shows how electronic media will continue to reshape and re-invent the ways in which we communicate.
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(228mm x 133mm x 25mm)
Publisher: Reaktion Books
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UK Kirkus Review »
This remarkable study will have an instant fascination for anyone intrigued by the possibilities, potentialities and significance of words. The Globalities series (which reinterprets world history in a concise yet thoughtful and accessible way) has produced some remarkable books, but this is their most accomplished yet: Fischer takes on the imposing territory of language, tackling areas which have rarely been explored, and throwing a fresh light on many aspects of verbal and written communication which the reader may (perhaps erroneously) feel he is familiar with. As a study of language, Fischer's book is utterly fascinating - but it is much more than that. Throughout this lucid and carefully reasoned study, the author addresses difficult questions about human nature and society, as reflected in language. Starting before the birth of human language and moving through the founding of the science of linguistics in the 19th century to modern areas of jargon, slang and other mutations, Fischer touches on the influence of radio, television, propaganda and advertising. The final effect of the book (apart from the intense mental stimulation it affords) is to send the reader into new areas of expression and understanding: few who read this fascinating study will regard language in quite the same way again. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Steven Roger Fischer
Steven Roger Fischer is Director of the Institute of Polynesian Languages and Literatures in Auckland, New Zealand. He is the author of A History of Writing, A History of Reading and Island at the End of the World: The Turbulent History of Easter Island, all available from Reaktion Books.