Meanderings of an Amateur Linguist

Just me and my languages – a dangerous combonation

Archive for January, 2009

Book Review: How to Learn Any Language

Posted by ILuvEire on January 21, 2009

Rating: 8/10

 Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and on Your Own by Barry Farber

How To Learn Any Language: Quickly, Easily, Inexpensively, Enjoyably and on Your Own by Barry Farber

This book is separated into two sections. The first gives the authors history as polyglot, and his expirience with various languages. The second part gives the methods he has created, and methods used by other people to attain fluency in the target language.

I thought that the tips were great. Absolutely wonderful. I’ve used every single one of them at one point or another. My only issue with his ideas, were that they weren’t his own. He presented techniques that other people use all in one book. If I wanted to learn about other people’s techniques, then I would have read other people’s books.

The other thing, is that at some points the writing gets somewhat dry. At most points I keep up with it pretty well, but periodically you become bored. He goes way too long with the Latin storyline, I feel that it starts to become a rant about Latin and about the percieved uselessness of learning an extinct language.

Also, another issue with the book is price. The book costs 12USD (10USD on Amazon) and is very, very short. It’s 184 pages, a very diminutive language book.

Price: 12.ooUSD

PPP: 0.06USD

Rating: 8/10

Where to buy?


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Book Review: Spoken Here

Posted by ILuvEire on January 18, 2009

Rating: 8/10

Spoken Here by Mark Abley

Spoken Here by Mark Abley

This is a review for the book, Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages by Mark Abley.

I found it while browsing the Lingusitics section in my local book store (okay…more like linguistics shelf). It’s not a long read, but it’s quite an interesting book.

When reading this, don’t expect much about linguistics. The book gives a basic overview of the langauges phonology and morphology, then he goes straight into interviews with people trying to keep the language alive. It’s not his fault, he’s not a linguist, he’s a journalist.

He talks to one of the last three speakers of the Mati-Ke (alternatly Marri-ge and every other name that starts with an M and ends with E) language, and to speakers of the Murrinh-Patha language, which is used in the same area. He travels to the Isle of Mann to speak to members of the language revival (the Manx language having died ~30 years previously). In Oklahoma he speaks to the last surviving speakers of the Yuchi language. One of special interest to me was Provençal. The language was quite prominent, and then was quickly extinguished. The last surviving speakers have access to a rich amount of literature in Provençal and Occitian (a related dialect/language). Yiddish, a language the flourished, and was also resently sent into decline, is observed in a theatre. Back to the states for the polysynthetic giant, Mohawk. And he rounds it off with a healthy dose of Welsh, one of language revival’s biggest success stories.

The only reson this book didn’t recieve a 10/10 is because of the rest of the book. In between each of these interesting information filled chapters, is a chapter about language extinction and revival. They are usually quite deppressing, and do not fit in well with the rest of the books happiness. They center around language death and how we cant do anything to stop it. Then it procedes to talk about the evils of the English language. Over. And over.

That aside, I highly recommend you pick up this book. It’s available in the linguistics section at Barnes and Noble, and also available online from and You can also pick it up on from his website, right here.

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Posted by ILuvEire on January 18, 2009

Okie dokie. Sorry ’bout all of the leaving. Someone hacked my blog. Why? Who knows? Who cares?

Anyway, so what’s in the future:
1. I’m going to do more Volapük lessons. The Vietnamese lessons are on hold for a few months.
2. I’m going to get more into my language learning techniques.
3. Perhaps language spotlight articles?

Those are my plans. They may change, but probably not. 🙂 If you have questions, you can e-mail me.

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