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Month in review

Reviews
Anonymity by John Mullan
Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
A Barnstormer in Oz by Philip José Farmer
Bastard Tongues by Derek Bickerton
The Egg and I by Betty MacDonald
Foiled by Jane Yolen
Fort Clay, Louisiana: A Tragical History by Albert E. Cowdrey
The Frog Comrade by Benjamin Rosenbaum
Fundaments of Geographic Information Systems by Michael DeMers
Gallop by Rufus Butler Seder
Here Are My Hands by Bill Martin Jr.
Indigo Blue by Cathy Cassidy
Information Seeking
in Electronic Environments
by Gary Marchionini
The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry
Looking for Lost Bird by Yvette Melanson
Lucifer Rising by Barbara Fifield
Northward to the Moon by Polly Horvath
On the Bluffs by Steven Schindler
The Osiris Alliance by Jack Ford
Otto's Orange Day by Jay Lynch
Patricia von Pleasantsquirrel by James Proimos
Peekaboo Baby by Rachel Isadora
Pinkalicious: Tickled Pink by Victoria Kann
The Portable MLIS edited by Ken Haycock and Brooke Sheldon
Remotest Mansions of the Blood by Alex Irvine
A Short History of Rudeness by Mark Caldwell
Silence by Dale Bailey
Ten Tiny Babies by Karen Katz
Textual Poachers by Henry Jenkins
Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris by R. L. LaFevers
A Touch of Dead by Charlaine Harris

Previous Month

Rating System

5 stars: Completely enjoyable or compelling
4 stars: Good but flawed
3 stars: Average
2 stars: OK
1 star: Did not finish

Reading Challenges

My Kind of Mystery Reading Challenge 2017 February - January 2017-8



Comments for Bastard Tongues

Bastard Tongues: 01/06/11

 cover art (Link goes to Powells)My reading of Bastard Tongues by Derek Bickerton coincided with getting hired by the Census. It ended up being a mental preparation for the wide range of languages I might face in the field. Now nearly a year later, my review writing lines up with my husband packing for a business trip to New Orleans, a place where Creole is spoken.

Derek Bickerton's book is that perfect blend of memoir and research I crave in my nonfiction reading. I mark this book among my favorites, along with Your Inner Fish by Neil Shubin and The Zen of Fish by Trevor Corson.

He begins his book with his arrival to Ngemelis Island where his first big linguistics research position. But before he jumps into what makes Ngemelis Island linguistically interesting he steps back in time to how he got interested in linguistics. Normally I would roll my eyes at an a flashback so early but in this case, the flashback belongs there. Ask any academic how they got to their chosen field of expertise and there is always a story. Bickerton's is one of the more fantastic ones.

Bickerton's story goes back to South Africa and a chance to change directions. If he was willing to study linguistics, he could transfer to Cambridge and live with a small stipend. It's the sort of story I could completely relate to and it put me in the mood to love the book.

The book is a region by region study of creoles and pijins and creoles. Bickerton looks for grammatical links between different languages for some larger human connection. Is grammar in born or a result of complex interactions? Are we reinventing the same patterns over and over again because we're programmed to? Or are we following the same pattern learned and passed down over the ages?

Bickerton has his opinions on those questions. He discusses the pros and cons of his theories in a fascinating, clearly outlined chapters interspersed with his own experiences as his linguistic career has progressed. If you are at all interested in language, you must read Bastard Tongues.


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