Chapter One: The Miracle Of Language
"Language is the Rubicon that divides man from beast," declared the philologist Max Müller. The boundary between human and animal -- between the most primitive savage and the highest ape -- is the language line. In some tribes in Africa, a baby is called a kuntu,
a "thing," not yet a muntu,
a "person." It is only through the gift of language that the child acquires reason, the complexity of thought that sets him or her apart from the other creatures who share this planet. The birth of language is the dawn of humanity; in our beginning was the word. We have always been endowed with...