Lingo : A Language Spotter's Guide to Europe

3.91 (2,696 ratings by Goodreads)
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Welcome to Europe as you've never known it before, seen through the peculiarities of its languages and dialects. Combining linguistics and cultural history, Gaston Dorren takes us on an intriguing tour of the continent, from Proto-Indo-European (the common ancestor of most European languages) to the rise and rise of English, via the complexities of Welsh plurals and Czech pronunciation. Along the way we learn why Esperanto will never catch on, how the language of William the Conqueror lives on in the Channel Islands and why Finnish is the easiest European language.

Surprising, witty and full of extraordinary facts, this book will change the way you think about the languages around you. Polyglot Gaston Dorren might even persuade you that English is like Chinese.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 256 pages
  • 138 x 204 x 29mm | 426g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Main
  • 1781254168
  • 9781781254165
  • 83,856

Review Text

Learned and pleasantly ironic ... [an] entertaining exercise in "language tourism" ... [Dorren's] tour of the continent is a richly diverting exercise ... He has something interesting to point out about nearly every topic ... brilliant Steven Poole Guardian
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Review quote

Learned and pleasantly ironic ... [an] entertaining exercise in "language tourism" ... [Dorren's] tour of the continent is a richly diverting exercise ... He has something interesting to point out about nearly every topic ... brilliant -- Steven Poole * Guardian * The depth and breadth of [Dorren's] understanding and knowledge are awesome ... this charming, funny and fascinating gem of a book has persuaded me of the richness we are in danger of losing. -- Rose Wild * The Times * I can't praise it enough. If you ever wanted to know how exactly Finnish and Hungarian are related and how Turkish fits in, it is clearly explained here in two to three pages. And so is everything else you ever wanted to learn about European languages but were afraid to ask. Brilliant, witty, excellent! -- Alan Sked * Times Higher Education * Joyful ... Lingo is that rare thing: a book about language the manages to be both genuinely interesting and enormous fun. Particularly impressive is Dorren's ability to flip with ease from jokes and surprising facts to the discussion of complex linguistic ideas ... For the sadly monoglot, Lingo is a wake-up call: a book that brims with joy at linguistic variety and invention, and reminds us what he - and we - are missing -- John Gallagher * Sunday Telegraph Seven * Through 60 compelling stories about European linguistics, it tells us an impressive amount about Europe ... An entertaining, accessible guide -- Stephanie Boland * Financial Times * Full of charm and pleasing detail ... [an] amusing tour of Europe's linguistic landscape * Spectator * Fact-packed ... [an] absorbing tour -- Julia Richardson * Daily Mail * A new approach to understanding the world ... ideal for any cunning linguist * Wanderlust * Gaston Dorren offers an excellent overview of Europe's languages ... It's very enlightening, and very well done * NRC Handelsblad * I love this book. It's witty and informative, with a wealth of engaging comments on all things language-related on our continent ... highly amusing ... the book's mine of information, make[s] this a great seasonal stocking filler - whether you're a lingophile or not. -- Gwyn Griffiths * Morning Star * This year's sleeper Christmas hit ... an amiable and entertaining examination of European languages in all their idiosyncratic glory -- Michael Conaghan * Belfast Telegraph * Full of odd linguistic facts ... fascinating -- Tom Chivers * Times Literary Supplement * A pleasurable read * The Linguist *
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About Gaston Dorren

Gaston Dorren has written two Dutch books on language and contributes regularly to Onze Taal, a popular linguistics magazine. A true polyglot, Gaston speaks Dutch, Limburgish, English, German and Spanish, and reads French, Afrikaans, Frisian, Portuguese, Italian, Catalan, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Luxembourgish and Esperanto.
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Rating details

2,696 ratings
3.91 out of 5 stars
5 27% (721)
4 44% (1,179)
3 24% (654)
2 4% (121)
1 1% (21)
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