9Polica za knjige

Citati iz knjige „Babel“ autora Gaston Dorren

But the primary creator and carrier of lingua francas has always been imperialism
dominant languages in themselves represent more linguistic, cultural and historical variety than is commonly realised
From an Islamic perspective, the Turks have now captured the big prize. But once again, they do not impose their language and culture upon the empire’s other peoples. On the contrary: this is when Ottoman Turkish, the empire’s elite and literary language, reaches its fullest hybrid magnificence, thanks to strong Arabic influence.
called into question
the entire linguistic system is founded upon the irrational principle that the sign [i.e. the word] is arbitrary’.
Much more common than the neutral or distant pronouns are pronouns that, in literal translation, designate all sorts of family relationships.
would call Vietnamese pronunciation easy if it weren’t for the elephant in the room, the big fat singing elephant that bedevils most East Asian languages: tone.


To quote an erudite British author of my acquaintance: ‘In English one can embark on a sentence with no very clear idea of the destination, but with German we find we can’t really improvise in that way. We have to have a clear notion of what we’re going to say before we try to say it, and we have to get the clauses in the right order.’
People have different collective feelings about their languages: we find veneration, pride, protectiveness and sometimes indifference, but also, especially among second-language speakers, resignation and even loathing
Unsurprisingly, all languages are different in the words they offer, the grammar they employ and the sounds they travel on. Their writing systems are not just alluringly varied in appearance, but also profoundly dissimilar in their functioning
The world’s biggest languages, which are the subject of this book, are causing the decline of hundreds, even thousands of smaller ones
with proficiency in just four languages – English, Mandarin, Spanish and Hindi-Urdu – you could smoothly navigate most of the world, without any need for an interpreter. Hindi-Urdu and Mandarin are widely understood in the two most populous countries on earth, Spanish will serve you well in much of the Americas and English is the nearest thing we have to a global linguistic currency
6,000 is a common estimate for the number of languages spoken and signed in today’s world
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