Cover: A Myriad of Tongues: How Languages Reveal Differences in How We Think, from Harvard University PressCover: A Myriad of Tongues in HARDCOVER

A Myriad of Tongues

How Languages Reveal Differences in How We Think

Product Details


$27.95 • £24.95 • €25.95

ISBN 9780674976580

Publication Date: 09/19/2023


288 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches


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Blending an ethnographer’s richness with an experimentalist’s clarity, Everett adroitly explains how what we’ve learned from data-driven studies of a myriad of tongues–from Amazonia and Africa to Australia and Austronesia–has dramatically shifted our understanding of the origins and nature of our species’ most salient ability: language. Far from being an isolated projection of innate psychology, languages evolve like other aspects of culture, adapting to our ecological contexts, social norms, acoustic environments, and cognitive inclinations. Languages also shape how speakers think, feel, and even perceive. With balance and breadth, this book offers an easy entry into a fascinating, though often ferocious, interdisciplinary field.—Joe Henrich, author of The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous

A marvelous tour of all that is amazing, perplexing, satisfying, and mysterious about languages and the humans who speak them. Everett combines up-to-date analyses with vivid descriptions of the diverse tools that humans use when they speak. His book drills down into deep mysteries but does so with a light hand, leading readers from one big question to the next. An essential read for anyone who wants to understand what we now know about language and how profoundly that understanding has recently evolved.—Christine Kenneally, author of The Invisible History of the Human Race: How DNA and History Shape Our Identities and Our Futures

Do different languages create different experiences of the world? Everett offers up a wealth of nuanced insights on the state of the science to replace both the old exoticism and the lazy skepticism. This is an overdue and fascinating book.—Gaston Dorren, author of Babel: Around the World in Twenty Languages

A gift for language is a large part of what makes us human, but as Everett shows, that gift manifests itself in an astonishing spectrum of ways. As previous certainties about the structure of language erode and dissolve under pressure from new discoveries, researchers in many fields are finally grasping the importance of linguistic diversity. This is a careful yet deeply provocative work.—Mark Abley, author of Spoken Here: Travels Among Threatened Languages

This book resoundingly demonstrates just how different languages can be and what those divergences reveal about us as a species. Based on both cutting-edge research and the author’s own experiences in the Amazon, where he grew up and conducted fieldwork, it will appeal to anyone who is interested in the science of language.—Nick Evans, author of Words of Wonder: Endangered Languages and What They Tell Us

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