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The Loom of Language: An Approach to the Mastery of Many Languages

4.24  ·  Rating Details  ·  158 Ratings  ·  13 Reviews
It is at the same time a history of language, a guide to foreign tongues, and a method for learning them. It shows, through basic vocabularies, family resemblances of languages—Teutonic, Romance, Greek—helpful tricks of translation, key combinations of roots and phonetic patterns. It presents by common-sense methods the most helpful approach to the mastery of many language ...more
Paperback, 720 pages
Published October 17th 1985 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published 1943)
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Phillip
Jan 20, 2015 Phillip rated it really liked it
Shelves:
This book is a product of its time. The author was multilingual but not a linguist. The book was written right after WWII. The author's purpose was to aid people to be able to communicate with each other so that understanding between people would contribute to the prevention of future wars.

The book contains essays about the Latin and Greek origins of European words. He discusses Romance and Germanic languages. He describes trends in the syntax and semantics of the language families.

Finally, he
...more
Dave Maddock
Oct 06, 2013 Dave Maddock rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: aspiring multilinguals
Shelves: language
There is so much great information in here that it requires repeat readings over several years, especially Part II. (I'm on my first pass.) Consider this book a meta-manual for learning how to learn languages.

It is divided into four parts. Part I is a "natural history" of language. Part II covers the "hybrid heritage" of English as a language which straddles the Germanic and Romance branches of the Indo-European language tree. Part III covers language problems and planning movements. Part IV is
...more
Ralph Lavelle
Apr 26, 2015 Ralph Lavelle rated it it was amazing
Shelves: languages
If you're interested in a broad overview of languages, not just in studying one of them, then you're going to come across this treasure trove of a book at some stage in your travels.

Despite being a bit dated at this stage, it has a modern feel to it due to its practical, no-nonsense approach - Bodmer constantly encourages you to learn short-cuts or heuristics to capitalise on the family resemblances among the different language groups, which many language books fail to do. In fact they rarely ac
...more
André
Dec 05, 2007 André rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: linguistics
Well suited for older people and laymen who are interested in languages and linguistics, but certainly not very technical or scientific. So for me it was nice to have some looks in, but it's not too useful, I'd say.
Keith Massey
Apr 14, 2014 Keith Massey rated it it was amazing
Anyone who loves languages simply has to read this book cover to cover. Bodmer manages to present many of the more interesting anecdotes of linguistic lore in a truly accessible fashion, which alone is worth the time of working through this sizable volume.

Anyone who loves learning languages will certainly benefit from his practical advice on how to focus on a combination of important vocabulary and how to triangulate from what you already know into a mastery of virtually every major language in
...more
Peter A
Mar 11, 2011 Peter A rated it really liked it
This is one of my favorite books. The language-learning strategies are invaluable, and Hogben has a gift for making the history of languages not just tolerably interesting, but page-turning. I come back to this book year after year to read new chapters and refresh myself on those I've already read. I may even have read it all by now. It's hard to say.

The only complaint I have about this wonderful book is that it is old and out of date. Almost all of the practical language-learning material is st
...more
Chelsea
Dec 20, 2013 Chelsea rated it liked it
One of those I can't read all at once. Really good, but is really a very dense, term-heavy text book about the structure of language. Honestly, is probably used for language studies majors. Skimmable if you're interested in the topic, so don't let that deter you.
flannery
Apr 19, 2012 flannery rated it it was amazing
This is too awesome not to own. I guess this is the text that set Sun Ra on his whole freaky language trip? Anyways it's not the kind of book I can't read cover to cover but even a partial reading gives you a much better and more holistic sense of how language works.
Qhlueme
Sep 12, 2012 Qhlueme rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully compelling book, when I read it cover to cover in high school. Easy to read, packed with comparative information. Although I've gone much farther in my study of languages and of linguistics, this book will remain dear to my heart forever.
Besecu
Jun 06, 2008 Besecu rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: language nerds
Recommended to Besecu by: reference from I can't remember where
Shelves:
I have learned alot from this book, mainly how to go about learning other languages as an adult. It has some awesome tables that compare romance languages & teutonic languages side by side. Definitely a good read if you are a language nerd.
Josephine
Jun 12, 2009 Josephine is currently reading it
Wow! This book is a fascinating exploration into the history of language and speech. I bought it only yesterday and I am halfway through this 692 page tome.
Dan Scott
Sep 29, 2012 Dan Scott rated it it was amazing
This book a had a huge impact on the way I have studied language.
Colin
One of my favorite books EVER on comparative linguistics!
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