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Miracle of Language

Miracle of Language

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Master verbalist Richard Lederer, America's "Wizard of Idiom" (Denver Post), presents a love letter to the most glorious of human achievements...
Welcome to Richard Lederer's beguiling celebration of language -- of our ability to utter, write, and receive words. No purists need stop here. Mr. Lederer is no linguistic sheriff organizing posses to hunt down and string up language offenders. Instead, join him "In Praise of English," and discover why the tongue described in Shakespeare's day as "of small reatch" has become the most widely spoken language in history:
  • English never rejects a word because of race, creed, or national origin. Did you know that jukebox comes from Gullah and canoe from Haitian Creole?
  • Many of our greatest writers have invented words and bequeathed new expressions to our eveyday conversations. Can you imagine making up almost ten percent of our written vocabulary? Scholars now know that William Shakespeare did just that!

He also points out the pitfalls and pratfalls of English. If a man mans a station, what does a woman do? In the "The Department of Redundancy Department," "Is English Prejudiced?" and other essays, Richard Lederer urges us not to abandon that which makes us human: the capacity to distinguish, discriminate, compare, and evaluate.
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  • Gallery Books | 
  • 256 pages | 
  • ISBN 9780671028114 | 
  • April 1999
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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... see more

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