Cover Image: The Language Game

The Language Game

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Member Reviews

Interesting concept and subject matter, but it’s a fairly slow read as the tone is technical/academic oriented.
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I loved reading this book! I found the writing to be very insightful and interesting. I was intrigued by the premise and I enjoyed reading it from start to finish.
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I teach a foreign language, and while a book like this would not be part of the normal curriculum, I would recommend it to my more theoretically-minded students, those who are interested in language itself. The authors write for a lay audience, and clearly state the playful roots of language, in a way that ties in to the way I teach the foreign language- one where grammar and vocab are part of a web of communication, often imperfect, but ever-converging on something understandable and useful.
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The subject matter of this book is fascinating, but like a lot of academics, Christiansen and Chater occasionally get repetitive or so technical that it can be hard to follow. As a person with a lot of interest in linguistics, I enjoyed it, but also found it a bit too dense.
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This was a fascinating read, covering all the different ways in which language evolves, and all the factors that come into play to show that evolution.  Well illustrated where a concept needed to be, and done with the intention of showing how each point works, particularly when you look at how a simple emotional decision can make all the difference between what you see and what you feel that you see.

This book is well researched and all the points are condensed to make them accessible without losing the context, which for a book on language, was everything that it should have been.  It covers the nature of how language illuminates and how it obfuscates.  I write for a living, so being able to read how language differs from region to region, how there are constants and contraries, was a delight.

This is an excellent insight into how language works
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This is an extremely dense book about linguistics, specifically the concept of creating language in a meaningful way. It is written in English but includes examples from other languages as well. There are chapters about topics such as evolution, culture, word games, and more. I would say this book is best suited for an audience familiar with basic linguistic concepts, otherwise it may be too much as an introductory text.
While I was very intrigued by the idea of this book, I had trouble with the full text itself. I loved some of the little anecdotes, stories, and examples, but found the narrative tedious and often repetitive. I often skipped from example to example because those caught my eye more.
I would be excited to read this book as a textbook because it is more interesting than the average linguistic guide, but it is not necessarily going to be entertaining for the general public. I struggled to finish all of this because of the writing and the organization. I think I would like to read short articles about any of these anecdotes, but the book as a whole wasn't the best fit for me.
Thank you very much to NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for a review.
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Fascinating. This is a book that basically argues that Noam Chomsky had some great ideas, but ultimately was quite a bit wrong and quite a bit off. And yes, that is an oversimplification explicitly designed (by me) to hook you into reading this book while also giving you an idea of the ultimate direction here. The authors are consistently afraid of "anarchy" *even while actually touting its exact benefits* - their entire argument is that language (and humanity) evolve best and most usefully outside of the bounds of rules (and thus outside the bounds of rulers - and since the literal definition of "anarchy" is "without rulers"... ;) ). Which is where they ultimately come into conflict with Chomsky's ideas of a universal language and a universal grammar machine. For someone that is decently educated but well outside the specific field at hand (Bachelor of Science in Computer Science), I found this to be a solid examination of the topic in language that I could easily follow-  whenever technical discussions within the field were at hand, Christiansen and Chater did a solid job of using their running metaphor of a game of charades to explain the differences and similarities in what they were describing using a system that so many of us know fairly well and can relate to very easily. As I said in the title here, truly a fascinating book, one anyone "of the word" - and thus, any reader, since we are *all* people "of the word" - should read. Very much recommended.
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This took me a bit to get through. I did enjoy the anecdotes within the book and I think it would be a great gift for any language lover. 
Thank you to Netgalley for this arc ebook, all opinions are my own.
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I love learning languages, so I was intrigued to see what would unfold in The Language Game. Overall, it was an interesting and entertaining read that introduced a number of intriguing theories and examples. I thought the charades connection was particularly apt, and there was some fascinating information among the pages on how different aspects of vocabulary and grammar work in diverse languages around the globe. One or two sections felt a little dry here and there, but for the most part, I would say the book could be read and enjoyed by linguists and laypeople alike, since the concepts presented were generally well explained in easy terminology. If you are interested in the history of language and how we learn it, you will doubtless find The Language Game a worthwhile read. It gets a solid four stars from me.
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