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198 × 129 mm
272 pages
12 illustrations
18 Jun 2018

A History of Language Steven Roger Fischer

It is tempting to take the tremendous rate of contemporary linguistic change for granted. What is required, in fact, is a radical reinterpretation of what language is. Steven Roger Fischer charts the history of language from the times of Homo erectus, Neanderthal humans and Homo sapiens through to the nineteenth century, when the science of linguistics was developed, as he analyses the emergence of language as a science and its development as a written form. He considers the rise of pidgin, creole, jargon and slang, as well as the effects radio and television, propaganda, advertising and the media are having on language today. Originally published in 1999, this new format edition, which includes a new preface by the author, also shows how digital media will continue to reshape and re-invent the ways in which we communicate.

‘Steven Fischer’s intriguing and ambitious study explores a vast terrain . . . Throughout, he addresses hard questions that bear directly on fundamental and distinctive aspects of human nature and achievement. A stimulating and highly informative inquiry’ – Noam Chomsky

‘[A] delightful and unexpectedly accessible book . . . a virtuoso tour of the linguistic world’ – The Economist

‘Few who read this remarkable study will regard language in quite the same way again’ – The Good Book Guide

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Steven Roger Fischer is Director of the Institute of Polynesian Languages and Literatures in Auckland, New Zealand. He is the author of A History of Writing (2003), A History of Reading (2004), Island at the End of the World: The Turbulent History of Easter Island (2006) and Islands: From Atlantis to Zanzibar (2012), all available from Reaktion Books.