My brother pointed me to a letter in last Sunday’s NY Times Book Review, and since it warmed my heart, I’m sharing it here:
What grabbed my attention in John McWhorter’s review of “Language: The Cultural Tool,” by Daniel L. Everett (April 8), wasn’t the continuing argument about genetics versus culture as the main shaper of language. It was the description of “Language” as “that rare thing: a warm linguistics book.”
Really? Who doesn’t love reading about language? McWhorter himself has written many entertaining volumes about creoles, pidgins and language evolution. Another linguist and popular writer is David Crystal. Then there is Steven Pinker, who writes about mind-language connections.
The list goes on. Right- versus left-branching syntax and arguments about recursion might not sound sexy, but linguistics is full of page-turning stuff. Really.
SUSAN J. BEHRENS
The writer, a linguist and professor at Marymount Manhattan College, is a co-editor of “Language in the Real World: An Introduction to Linguistics.”
As I’ve said a number of times here at LH, we live in a golden age of well-written books by linguists aimed at the general public, and I’m glad to see it publicized.