CM . . .
. Volume XXII Number 6. . . .October 9, 2015
It is estimated that there are nearly 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, some of them by millions of people and others by just a few. Half of the world’s languages are in danger of dying out altogether. Languages can be spoken, written or nonverbal. Examples of nonverbal languages include sign language, semaphore (flags), drumming, computer codes, braille, whistling and Morse code. Communication is not limited to humans. Some examples from the animal kingdom include the bee dance which bees perform to tell other members of the hive how far and in what direction the source of nectar is, whale songs, dog barking, and the ability of some animals, such as reef squid, to change colour to indicate their interest in mating.
The book begins and ends with a map of the world, the first showing how people say “hello” in 48 different countries, and the second telling how those same people say “goodbye”. It discusses the importance of language, provides a brief history, and explains how language was spread through trade, migration and war; it presents facts, such as the most spoken language (Mandarin Chinese), the discovery of new languages, “textese”, slang, and invented languages from films and literature (for instance, Quenya, one of the Elvish languages which J. R. R. Tolkien created for his Lord of the Rings trilogy).
Gail Hamilton is a former teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.