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Language & Biodiversity (Biology Today) (Report)

The American Biology Teacher 2011, April, 73, 4

The American Biology Teacher

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Description

Sometimes coincidences occur, and last spring, I happened to find two books on language in the same evening: Walking English by David Crystal (2007) and The Tree of Meaning by Robert Bringhurst (2008). In some ways, they are similar. Both authors are experts on linguistics with several books each, and both are passionate about their work. But, as you'll see, the languages they deal with are very different in their histories and futures. In any case, they got me interested in the topic, and so I've been collecting articles on language, particularly biological aspects of the subject. Since this month's theme is behavior, it seems appropriate to delve into one of the behaviors that is most intrinsic to being human, though as will become clear, it's difficult to focus on one behavior without also discussing others. As his title implies, Crystal devotes himself to the English language, to how it has developed, and the odd differences found in the ways English is spoken not only in different parts of the world, but in different areas of England. He illustrates how closely language is tied to geography by walking from place to place through the English countryside. The rambles he recounts are sporadic and take place over an extended period, but there's a map to help you keep track of his perambulations. He tells of language oddities peculiar to certain counties and even to certain towns. Toward the end of the book, he travels much more broadly, commenting on what happens to English in other parts of Europe, and also in the United States. If a distance of 10 or 20 miles can make a difference in how the language is spoken, it's no surprise that an ocean has led to much greater variation. The analogy to speciation is obvious here, with closely Mated language "species" perhaps defined as dialects.

Language & Biodiversity (Biology Today) (Report)
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  • $5.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Life Sciences
  • Published: Apr 01, 2011
  • Publisher: National Association of Biology Teachers
  • Seller: The Gale Group, Inc.
  • Print Length: 16 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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