The Linguist

TheLinguist 58,3-June/July 2019

The Linguist is a languages magazine for professional linguists, translators, interpreters, language professionals, language teachers, trainers, students and academics with articles on translation, interpreting, business, government, technology

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24 The Linguist Vol/58 No/3 2019 REVIEWS Language policy and practice have come to the fore in recent years as a result of migration and population shifts, changing trade terms and strategic factors. Both policy and practice (and those factors which have made them important) have been quite contentious at individual, commercial and state level – the varying changes of mood towards language policy in the UK in the last 25 years being a case in point. Linguanomics is subtitled 'What is the market potential of multilingualism?' and proceeds to answer the case succinctly and in interesting detail. The background to multilingual societies ranges from reports by Herodotus to the travels of Marco Polo, and the book covers the many aspects that need to be taken into account when looking at the status of languages in the world today. The socio-economic benefits that derive from recognising and building on the multilingual elements of society are covered, as are the dangers of not doing so. These include lost business deals, mistakes in medical procedures, dangers arising from lapses in safety and other matters of security. The prime example is the air crash in Tenerife in 1977, where confusion between a KLM aircraft, a Pan Am aircraft and the local Spanish air traffic controller led to the deaths of the 585 people on board. It would have been useful here to mention both Airspeak and Seaspeak as simplified forms of English, which may be used clearly by non-native speakers even in less than perfect conditions. There is, of course, scope for automation in such circumstances, though legal interpreters have reported problems with the use of Google Translate. Three-way telephone interpreting is mentioned, but not the other developments currently underway to make electronic speech conversion a viable possibility between a wide range of languages. Linguanomics is a very handy book, which brings together the many strands that enmesh the world of languages today. It presents all the items that will be of benefit to non-specialists with an interest in languages, and includes information that may not immediately come to mind for experts. Tim Connell FCIL Linguanomics Gabrielle Hogan-Brun Bloomsbury 2017, 168 pp; ISBN 978-1474238298 Paperback £12.99 One of the great joys of studying Ancient Greek is discovering just how many words in modern English, and indeed many other languages, have their origins in Greek. As Alexander Tulloch says in his introduction to It's All Greek: Borrowed words and their histories, it is the longest continuously spoken and written language in Europe. This is by no means the first book to consider the influence of Greek on English vocabulary, but other such works have tended to focus on literary, scientific and scholarly terminology. As Tulloch explains, most educated people can recognise words such as 'mathematics', 'microphone', 'biology' and 'geometry' as having Greek origins. His aim in It's All Greek is to concentrate on what he calls 'surprises' – commonly used words whose Greek provenance is not immediately obvious. Not many of us are aware that words such as 'purse', 'place', 'chimney' and 'pirate' are distantly related to words that Plato, Aristotle and Euripides would have understood. One particularly striking example is the humble word 'rhubarb', which Susie Dent also touched on in her David Crystal Lecture. Who would have guessed that the 'barb' part comes from the same Greek word, bárbaros ('foreign'), that gave us the word 'barbarian'? In addition to items on individual words, there are helpful short explanatory sections on Greek authors, history, mythology and culture, and the text is enlivened by occasional illustrations. The introduction itself is a useful and often entertaining summary of the different ways that Greek words have found their way into English. Two important routes are the role of Greek learning in the early Christian church, and the use of Greek to coin new words during the age of scientific discovery from around the mid-16th century. It is unlikely that anyone but the most dedicated etymologist (from Greek étumos; 'real, true') would read this fascinating book from cover to cover, but it is very enjoyable to dip into, and its pocket-book format makes it easy to carry around. It would make a perfect gift for anyone studying Ancient Greek or interested in the origins of words. Keith Moffitt FCIL It's All Greek Alexander Tulloch The Bodleian Library 2018, 224 pp; ISBN 978-1851245055 Hardback £12.99

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