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Limits of Language: Almost Everything You Didn't Know You Didn't Know about Language and Languages
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Limits of Language: Almost Everything You Didn't Know You Didn't Know about Language and Languages

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  39 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Answers all your questions about language...even the ones you never thought to ask.

How did...
the discovery of a mysterious Persian mummy lead to a murder investigation?
the word "dord" come to appear in English, and then disappear again?
a border collie named Rico learn 200 words?

What is...
the loudest language?
the worst dictionary ever?
the most difficult word to translate?

Paperback, 466 pages
Published July 1st 2008 by William James & Company (first published 2006)
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"Limits of Language" arrived today from Amazon. I've never smoked crack, but reading this book approximates what I imagine it would feel like -- an initial rush of pure pleasure, followed by the irresistible craving for just one more bump, yielding to that craving over and over until - six hours later - you find yourself surrounded by cats not fed, laundry not done, unwashed dishes, unpaid bills, and yet you still can't stop yourself. You want more. You want it to last forever. Damn you, Mikael ...more
Oct 16, 2011 C. rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to C. by: Language log + David G
Finished! And it was amazing, though the humour did get a little on the clunky side towards the end. I would like also to note that Parkvall uses the feminine pronoun as the default. In any case, I think I know what I'll be getting for my birthday this year.


I suppose it's too much to hope that a book such as this would be completely accurate, but it certainly seems to come as close as a book could. Parkvall cites his sources meticulously, and explains his methodology
Jul 20, 2009 Trevor rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Trevor by: Choupette White
Shelves: language, science
There is hardly any point in doing a review of this book when David has done this one - And Choupette has done this one -

I finished this today – there is something to be said for getting the flu. The end wasn’t nearly as good at some of the stuff at the start, but there was still enough to keep me interested.

One of my favourite bits was called Kofi walk go market – ‘Well, this is the other one, which translates a
Mikael Parkvall is a linguist who is fascinated by language. If you're not equally fascinated, it's probably because you simply don't know enough about it. In LoL, Parkvall does his best to rectify that by pulling together every unusual, quirky, unexpected and sometimes downright hilarious fact about language you can possibly imagine, along with quite a few you can't.

This book does not have a narrative structure. Rather, it picks a topic - say, "How Many Words Are There?" or "Language Myths," an
Main Entry: lim-it
Pronunciation: \ˈli-mət\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French limite, from Latin limit-, limes boundary
Date: 14th century
1 a : something that bounds, restrains, or confines b : the utmost extent

I picked up this book thinking that it was about the limits of language as in the things that language cannot express. That really intrigued me. How can one write a book and explore, using words, the things that language cannot express? It turned out that the book
May 29, 2009 Georg rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Douglas Adams fans
Shelves: english, non-fiction
Definitively everything (and more) I didn't know I didn't know about languages. And one of the most beautiful Douglas Adams-non-quotes I have ever read:

"Kiowa uses a curious way of number marking somtimes referred to as "inversive marking". The same morpheme, in Kiowa -go indicates singular or plural depending on which number is the least expected." (p. 305)

So the book would deserve 5 stars but I had to reduce one of them due to the redundant use of exclamation marks!
This book was a bit of a disappointment: Not quite what I was expecting. As the author himself notes in his introduction, it's a Guiness Book of World Records-like compilation of factoids about language and linguistics. There's some interesting "stuff" but there's also a lot of "stuff" that's not, and most of the entries are frustratingly short.

And - the copy editor in me froths - the typos are legion. The most egregious pops up on page 320 of my edition where the entry "Person Marking on Nouns"
Nov 02, 2008 André rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to André by: Balthasar Bickel
Shelves: linguistics
This book is great! Hilarious! So many interesting trivia facts about languages and language in general. And also about linguistics and linguists. Plus, everything is well-sourced. I love the author's way of writing. "Limits of Languages" is really entertaining. I wonder if the abbreviation of the title is on purpose.
Apr 03, 2010 Bruce rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: EVERYONE
I'm so glad people brought this book to my attention. Forget the deep epistemological implications of Parkvall's title: modeled after The Guinness Book of World Records with blurb-style entries on various topics (longest, greatest, smallest, rarest, etc.), Limits ends up as basically a "News of the Weird" for language lovers. While this book is sort of, kind of intended as a serious reference work, it's hard to know when to take Parkvall seriously.

In these pages, you will discover the following:
Dieses Buch ist eine Art Äquivalent zum "Guiness Buch der Rekorde", nur halt auf Sprachen bezogen. Allerding führt es nicht nur Rekorde auf (soweit dies möglich ist, da es oft keine verläßlichen oder eindeutig meßbaren Zahlen gibt), sondern auch allerhand Kurioses, viele interessante Fakten zu Sprachen und Sprache im Allgemeinen und auch zu Linguisten.
Das Themengebiet ist dabei sehr weit gefächert, wie man auch an den beispielhaften Fragen aus der Verlagsbeschreibung sehen kann, und reicht von d
Feb 03, 2010 Kate marked it as to-read
David Giltinan keeps this on the "snort milk through your nose" shelf. That's exactly what I'm looking for in a book. I'll pick it up next time I'm in the US.
great content, terrible editing and layout.
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