Book review: Through the Language Glass

Through the Language Glass: How Words Colour Your WorldThrough the Language Glass: Why the World Looks Different in Other Languages by Guy Deutscher
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

If you speak more than one language or like languages in general than you must read this book.

“Through the Language Glass”, from the linguist Guy Deutscher, talks about the particularities of languages and the way it influences people’s thoughts.

The book offers an overview of different theories from linguistics on how speakers of certain tribes could be color blind or unable understand the concept of time like the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis advocated.

While Deutscher recognizes we do not know much about the brain to know how different people really think from each other, he uses a good deal of experiments’ reports that show how language plays an important role in what comes to understanding concepts like color, spatial orientation and gender. Still, do not make the mistake of thinking that maybe this limits people’s thoughts because a good part of the book explains how even if a concept does not exist in a language, it can be explained to and perceived by speakers of that language.

Many interesting differences among cultures are presented, ranging from the simple concept that a tree might be a he, she or it, to the fact that many cultures treat blue and green as tones of the same color.

All this is written in a very smart and funny way like the sarcastic comments about linguistics’ daring theories or by temporarily borrowing other languages’ features and using them in English.

This is no doubt one of the best books I have ever read and thus I give it 5 stars and recommend that you add it to your “to-read” list.

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