David's Reviews > Through the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages

Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher
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's review
Sep 18, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: linguistics

Benjamin Whorf, an amateur anthropologist, suggested that language affected the way people think, in very fundamental ways, although the idea hardly originated with him.

Whorf's ideas have not held up to serious analysis and investigation. Deutscher, however, summarizes recent research on linguistic elements such as the description of directions, color terminology, and gender, suggesting that language does subtly influence perception and thought.

This book also contains some interesting intellectual history. William Gladstone, the English Prime Minister, wrote on color terminology long before the anthropologists Berlin and Kay did, and was followed by many others.

The book is quite readable, marred only occasionally by strange diction ("forgive us our ignorances"), perhaps due to the fact that the author is a native speaker of modern Hebrew.

I find this stuff fascinating, and look forward to more books on linguistic topics by this author.

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