Review Why is this a question? Everything about the origins and oddities of language you never thought to ask (a review)

As part of its subtitle, this books discusses Everything about the origins and oddities of language you never thought to ask. It asks 26 questions about language, ranging from broader questions such as what a word or a language is, through issues regarding the alphabet and parts of speech and word order, as well as reading, speaking and writing skills, ending up with How Do We Understand? and Why Is This a Question? and a look at body language research in Why Do We Use Our Hands When We Talk? It also includes at the end 14 puzzles with solutions supported by references and the all-important index. Paul Jones’ book starts by asking about languages and words and where they come from. Although the book is published in English it’s primarily about world languages, in which the English language plays an important part. It uses examples from all the languages in the world from Mandarin Chinese to pidgin and is fascinating on how language developed from the articulation of the voice in response to crisis situations to the development of national and regional languages and dialects to fulfil the needs of particular communities. He also introduces research and theories which help explain how language originated, particularly in relation to animals.

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