Thursday, August 18, 2011

Book Review: What Language Is by John McWhorter

If you've ever wondered why the English language is structured the way it is ~ and why other languages are structured differently ~ What Language Is: And What It Isn't and What It Could Be by John McWhorter will shed light on the situation. McWharter, a renowned linguist, helps us understand how language develops over time, how each language relates to others and how brand new languages emerge within the modern world.

He presents this information using IDIOM as an acronym: Language, according to McWhorter, is Ingrown, Dissheveled, Intricate, Oral and Mixed. Each aspect gets its own chapter, where he presents stories and examples from many different languages ~ some that you've heard of and others that you probably didn't know existed. It's a fascinating look at the development and evolution of language around the world.

Overall, this is a very informative book. McWhorter interjects humor and interesting facts throughout in an effort to keep the discussion somewhat lighthearted. But the book definitely has an academic feel to it and is a bit dry at times. I personally got bogged down in the examples of conjugated verbs and other types of grammar in various languages. I think the examples are necessary but my brain wanted to sit and study them and understand them, when I should have just glanced at them and moved on.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in words, grammar or linguistics in general, as well as anyone who is interested in the history of languages around the world. As I said above, it really is a fascinating topic if you don't get too bogged down in the details.

My Rating: 3.5/5

For more information, visit the publisher's website.

Visit the other stops on this book tour:

Monday, August 1st:  Book Club Classics!
Tuesday, August 2nd:  BookNAround
Thursday, August 4th:  One Book Shy of a Full Shelf
Friday, August 5th:  Melody & Words
Monday, August 8th:  Rundpinne
Tuesday, August 9th:  Lit and Life
Wednesday, August 10th:  Hey I Want to Read That
Thursday, August 11th:  The Broke and the Bookish
Friday, August 12th:  In the Next Room
Monday, August 15th:  Book Bird Dog
Wednesday, August 17th:  Acting Balanced
Thursday, August 18th:  My Book Retreat
Monday, August 22nd:  At Home with Books
Tuesday, August 23rd:  Raging Bibliomania
Wednesday, August 24th:  SMS Book Reviews
Thursday, August 25th:  Unabridged Chick
Monday, August 29th:  Overstuffed


  1. I want to enter! h3ll0z0mbi3 [at]

  2. I already follow your blog.

    h3ll0z0mbi3 [at]

  3. and I already follow you on twitter! (Hell0z0mbie)

  4. I am now following you on facebook. (Emma W*****)

    h3ll0z0mbi3 [at]

  5. I'm glad you enjoyed this one for the most part. Thanks for being a part of the tour!

  6. This sounds as if it would be extremely interesting, sadly I do not qualify for the giveaway.

  7. I would LOVE to read this book - I was a linguistics major waaaaay back, and I would love to catch up on what's happening in the field today. Thanks for the chance to win a copy!

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  8. Following with GFC.

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  9. Following on Twitter (@aseaofbooks)

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com

  10. I "liked" you on Facebook. Is that the same as Following? (I'm not much good at Facebook, but I'm trying to get the hang of it!)

    geebee.reads AT gmail DOT com


Thanks for stopping by! I'd love to hear your thoughts!