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A critically acclaimed journey back through time in search of the Mother Tongue and the roots of the human family. ''Invites the reader to learn and apply the common process used by linguists'' says Science News. Booklist says, ''Believing that doing is learning, Ruhlen encourages his readers to try their hand (and eye) at classifying languages. This exercise helps us appreciate the challenges inherent in this fascinating and controversial science of comparative linguistics.''
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The Origin of Language: Tracing the Evolution of the Mother Tongue  

Just as archaeologists study fossils and ancient artifacts for clues about mankind's origins, linguistic researchers today are sifting through word roots and grammatical conventions and coming up with some startling revelations about our beginnings. In The Origin of Language noted linguist Merritt Ruhlen takes you on a fascinating journey of discovery back through nearly 100,000 years of human history and prehistory in pursuit of the language from which all modern tongues derive. Requiring no prior familiarity with linguistics, The Origin of Language is the first book to explain, in laymen's terms, the controversial process by which linguists are tracing the development of the vast range of human speech, sweeping aside many traditional assumptions about the spread of language and the roots of the human family. In addition to acquainting you with the manner in which such diverse languages as English and Chinese can be compared, Dr. Ruhlen introduces you to the brilliant mavericks whose linguistic theories are at last gaining worldwide acceptance. He also discusses the exciting new work being done in genetics and archaeology that corroborates much of the controversial linguistic evidence. But more than simply describing his and his colleague's theories, Dr. Ruhlen invites you to share in the joys of discovery. He arms you with the linguist's basic tool kit and lets you work through the evidence for yourself and draw your own conclusions. You'll classify languages and language families, trace language family trees, and even reconstruct some of the basic vocabulary used by our most distant ancestors. Also, based on clues provided by your research, you'll plot the land and sea routes mostlikely taken by early humans in their diaspora out of Africa and to the four corners of the world. While The Origin of Language is an incomparable introduction to some of the most exciting linguistic research now being conducted by researchers around the globe, it is also much more. It is an inspiring invitation to join the quest for our human roots and to hear the echoes of the Mother Tongue.


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2006