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Bastard tongues : a trailblazing linguist finds clues to our common humanity in
Bickerton, Derek.
Adult Nonfiction PM7831 .B53 2008

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From Publishers' Weekly:

A novelist, professor emeritus of linguistics at the University of Hawaii and self-proclaimed "street linguist," Bickerton chronicles his studies of creoles-the "bastard tongues" of the title-isolated languages with "dubious and disputed parentage" spoken by the lower classes. Bickerton seeks to explain creoles' linguistic anomaly: all creoles, though isolated from one another, have similar grammatical traits. This chatty, humorous memoir, laced with lucid analyses, shows how a creole initially seems to be a mishmash of nonsensical words (e.g., "She mosi de bad mek she tek he"), but is later revealed to be linguistically lush (translation: "She could only have married him because she was completely broke"). Most creoles, the author says, were created out of necessity due to the language divide that existed between imperialist states and their colonies, and Bickerton theorizes that creoles are evidence of humans' "innate language bioprogram that enables them to construct a new language out of [linguistic] bits and pieces." Creating a multifaceted, immersive approach to the study of linguistics, Bickerton explores the miraculous human capacity for language and how the emergence of creole languages "represents a triumph of... the human spirit." (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

An erudite linguist of the world's most esoteric languages, Bickerton (emeritus, Univ. of Hawaii) nevertheless makes this study of Creole and pidgin languages entertainingly readable, despite some tough going in grammar (the glossary of linguistics terms is very helpful). He travels to Guyana, Colombia, Surinam, the Philippines, the Republic of Seychelles, the Caribbean, and Hawaii in search of common threads among local languages and dialects. Frequenting bars one day (where he befriends local peasants) and international linguistics conferences the next (where he socializes with eminent scholars), Bickerton recounts tales of both his dangerous times among ruffians and the harsh backbiting he witnesses among scholars. But ultimately, his research results in numerous enlightening discoveries about Creole and pidgin languages that question their low ranking among the world's languages. Recommended for all public libraries.-Kitty Chen Dean, Nassau Community Coll., Garden City, New York (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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