Lingo in the New Yorker

Gaston Dorren‘s book Lingo got the following short-and-sweet write-up in the New Yorker last week:

LINGO, by Gaston Dorren, translated from the Dutch by Alison Edwards (Atlantic). In this playful survey of sixty languages spoken in Europe, each chapter takes a different approach: parody, folktale, personal essay. A lesson on the Cyrillic alphabet follows an extended metaphor in which window shades illustrate the range and influence of the three languages—Galician, Catalan, Castilian—at the top of the Iberian Peninsula. A venture into Scots Gaelic, which has only thirteen consonants to spell thirty consonant sounds, gives way to chapters on diacritics; diminutives and augmentatives in Italian; and the gender-neutral Swedish pronoun hen. The British Isles alone have nine languages (counting Channel Island Norman). Dorren gives voice to an important linguistic truth: “Today’s errors tend to become tomorrow’s correct usage.”



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