You Must Read This: Trip of the Tongue

Our wonderful friend Nataly Kelly recently sent me (Judy) a book that she knew I would love. It's a book on languages in America by language writer Elizabeth Little. It's cleverly titled Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Languages. The author, who has studied many languages herself and has an impressive Harvard pedigree, set out on a road trip across America (we love road trips!) to discover our country's many languages and to find out how they are doing. It's a great and entertaining read. As opposed to many books on language, this one is not dry and academic -- quite the contrary. Although the author does share her impressive knowledge on the nitty-gritty of grammar details on say, indigenous languages, her insight is fascinating and her observations are part Kerouac and part hard-core linguistics geek. 

Her book is subdivided into chapters that each address a language (or several) in a particular state. The reader not only gets in-depth information on the state of the language in that state -- for instance, Basque in my home state of Nevada or Norwegian in North Dakota, where I recently went on vacation (really), but there's also some great history lessons to be had. Little is a compelling storyteller, and she mixes the highbrow and the lowbrow quite well. I was particularly interested in learning about creole languages in South Carolina and Louisiana. If you are looking for a great summer read that will make you feel smarter and will also entertain you, then this witty book on America's languages should be right up your ally. Thanks for the great gift, Nataly! Here's what National Public Radio had to stay about the book (they are much more eloquent than I am). Also, the book was featured on a segment of Public Radio International's The World by Patrick Cox. 

What's your favorite book on language, dear readers? We'd love to hear about your favorites. 


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The entrepreneurial linguists and translating twins blog about the business of translation from Las Vegas and Vienna.

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