The Language Lover's Puzzle Book

Perple_ing Le_ical Patterns to Unmi_ and Ve_ing Synta_ to Outfo_

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Pub Date 09 Nov 2021 | Archive Date 23 Nov 2021

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Description

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100 wonder-filled word puzzles that thrill and tantalize with the beauty, magic, and weirdness of world language

Whether you’re a crossword solver, cryptogram fan, Scrabble addict, or Sudoku savant, The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book is guaranteed to tease your brain and twist your tongue. Puzzle master Alex Bellos begins in Japan, where we can observe some curious counting:

boru niko = two balls
tsuna nihon = two ropes
uma nito = two horses
kami nimai = two sheets of paper

ashi gohon = five legs
ringo goko = five apples
sara gomai = five plates
kaba goto = five hippos

Now, how do the Japanese say “nine cucumbers”?*
a) kyuri kyuhon
b) kyuri kyuko
c) kyuri kyuhiki
d) kyuri kyuto

Bellos finds the intrigue—and the human element—in a dizzying array of ancient, modern, and even invented tongues, from hieroglyphs to Blissymbolics, Danish to Dothraki. Filled with unusual alphabets, fascinating characters, and intriguing local customs for time-telling, naming children, and more, this is a bravura book of brainteasers and beyond—it’s a globe-trotting, time-traveling celebration of language.

*The word endings depend on shape: Flat things end in -mai and spherical things end in -ko. Cucumbers are long things (like ropes and legs), so they end in -hon. The answer is (a)!

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Advance Praise

★ International Bestseller

The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book is exactly the sort of book I wish had been available to me as a budding linguist. I recommend it for all the language and puzzle fans in your life!”—Gretchen McCulloch, New York Times–bestselling author of Because Internet

“Not just a puzzle collection, but an introduction to the science of distilling regularities from the weird ways in which languages behave . . . Many beginners, after the buzz of Mr. Bellos’s puzzles, may also fall in love with the joys of [linguistics].”—Economist

 “I am a sucker for Alex Bellos’s books—they’re just such fun, full of unexpected ideas and charmingly written. If you like puzzles, this is a delightful and original approach, and you’ll pick up a lot of quirky delights along the way.”—Tim Harford, author of The Data Detective

“For those of us who love Countdown and crosswords, Guardian puzzler Alex Bellos’s newest book of puzzles is the perfect way to pass the time.”—BBC Science Focus

“An irresistible linguistic workout—challenging and deeply satisfying.”—Gaston Dorren, author of Lingo: A Language Spotter’s Guide to Europe 

“A cornucopia of ingenious and insightful challenges, each with a bonus commentary about the fascinating diversity of the world’s languages, all presented in a friendly and engaging style. The title is exactly right. It’s the perfect companion for anyone who loves puzzles and languages.”—David Crystal, author of The Stories of English

“If you love a puzzle—and you love language—you’ll love what Alex Bellos has done here.”—Gyles Brandreth, author of Dancing by the Light of the Moon

“Language is a puzzle, so this compendium of language puzzles is a great idea; and the great thing about puzzles is they give us problems that we didn’t even know were problems.”—Michael Rosen, author of Alphabetical: How Every Letter Tells a Story

“The only puzzle book I’ve seen that manages to befuddle both sides of the brain at the same time.”—Dara Ó Briain, comedian and author of Secret Science

“You can probably think of someone who needs a present for these ‘Oh my god it’s getting dark early and the world is full of germs’ times. This is it!”—Lynne Murphy, professor of linguistics at the University of Sussex

★ International Bestseller

The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book is exactly the sort of book I wish had been available to me as a budding linguist. I recommend it for all the language and puzzle fans in...


Available Editions

EDITION Other Format
ISBN 9781615198047
PRICE $16.95 (USD)

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Average rating from 13 members


Featured Reviews

Pros: I often work Sunday NYT crosswords and sudoku puzzles, but I was curious to learn what other puzzles are out there. The puzzles in this book were unique, and I love how they incorporated different languages and cultures. At times I felt like an archeologist trying to crack a code in an ancient language, which was lots of fun. This puzzle book truly is for language lovers--I had many opportunities to look up definitions and learn new words. I was pleasantly surprised at how many puzzles are in this book and how long the book is! I also appreciated that these are tricky puzzles because most puzzleworkers want a challenge, not a Monday crossword. Cons: This isn't a con but more a note on book format--I did not love this book in an ebook form. I think it would be great as a spiral-bound paperback so the reader can work the puzzles on paper. Thank you to NetGalley and The Experiment for the opportunity to read this book and work these puzzles!

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The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book delivers completely on what the title suggests. Each section covers linguistic concepts and history with time and theory put into it. I feel like “Puzzle” is a soft word for the activities in this book, it feels more along the lines of code breaking. And beyond interactive puzzles, there is so much linguistic history to learn about in this book! Quite Frankly, I could spend so much time with this book, it feels like a professor would use it for academic material, and I mean that in the highest form of compliment. The tone is fun, cheeky and the reader is given the opportunity to learn so much and think in a critical, challenging and satisfying way. Five stars for what it is meant to be even if it felt a bit out of my own logical capabilities.

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The Language Lover's Puzzle Book is a wide ranging mixed bag of wordplay and linguistic puzzles by Alex Bellos. Originally released in the UK in 2020, this reformat and re-release by The Experiment is 416 pages and will be available in paperback and ebook formats. This book is full of thematically grouped word puzzles to solve and as well as a multiple choice test (lingo bingo). The puzzles range from very easy to quite difficult and they will provide readers with hours of solving fun. One of the things I liked about these puzzles in particular was that they've got a linguistic twist. Many of them are set up particularly to allow readers to use given information to logically extrapolate an answer by using patterns and language to build from A to B. Here's an example from the book blurb: boru niko = two balls tsuna nihon = two ropes uma nito = two horses kami nimai = two sheets of paper ashi gohon = five legs ringo goko = five apples sara gomai = five plates kaba goto = five hippos Now, how do the Japanese say “nine cucumbers”?* a) kyuri kyuhon b) kyuri kyuko c) kyuri kyuhiki d) kyuri kyuto The book includes word chains, acrostics, crosswords, and other variations more difficult to describe and further outside the standard puzzle fare. Four stars. Due to the nature of the puzzles (and because writing in library books is a big no-no) this would probably be less than ideal for library acquisition. It will, however, delight language and word-puzzle fans. Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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This is definitely for hardcore language nerds. Broadly organized by theme, there are dozens of very, very challenging word and language puzzles that will take quite a bit of mental brawn to figure out. This is perfect for puzzle lovers bored of pedestrian challenges and the usual brain-teasers. Answers are explained well at the end of the book. I might have preferred them to be at the end of each section instead of all grouped together, but this wasn't an insurmountable obstacle. Pick this up for someone who enjoys a real brain workout! Many thanks to the publisher and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review!

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Manna from heaven for many a bookish type, this is both a regular non-fiction book about how we humans communicate and a wide spread of rather difficult puzzles based on similar issues. By the time you've gone through it all you'll have had to count in Manx, named Burmese Buddhist babies, and gained a wider appreciation for both Benedictine and Cistercian monks and Abkhaz speakers alike. If the deep thought needed for all the puzzles is not to your taste there are easier (ha, ha) multiple choice quizzes here and there, but the core of the book could also be seen to be several, diverse essays about our world's languages, number systems, and so on. The first chapter is about how computers are a long way off fully understanding the Queen's English and how wot she is wrote. We soon get to how English came to be in the first place, the history of the alphabet and writing systems, Pitman shorthand – there's a heck of a lot here. Perhaps there are more in-depth books covering similar information, but they won't have the testing side to these pages, and they will rarely be done with this much fun and clarity. And in how the Portuguese managed to define colours in an infographic system ideal for the colour-blind, it shows us a lot about how we as a species use different means of communication the regular Joe would never ever have considered.

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I definitely identify as a language lover, so I was excited to take a look at this book. It's filled with a number of different puzzles, each challenging in their own way. I definitely learned a few new words and was stumped more that once. It's definitely something that can keep you busy and help keep your linguistic skills sharp. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the advance copy.

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Thank you to the author and publisher for a copy of this book in exchange for honest feedback. I am not skilled at these sort of games, but I really loved giving it a go. I think there is a great range of skill set involved in this book. In fact, I know of a handful of people that would like to give this book a go, particularly those who are into language, logic puzzles, linguistics, etc. Overall, this book would make for a great gift. It's unique and not just like all the other puzzle game books out there rehashed.

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I really enjoyed this book! I liked it more as a personal puzzle book to keep at home, just because I tend to scribble in books like this or need to fill them in, so I'm not sure this would be the best book for a library. However, as a lover of languages, linguistics, and puzzles, I really enjoyed thinking through these activities. I think it was good at testing already established vocabulary as well as good at teaching new words!

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