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A useful overview, strong on sociolinguistics, though historical linguists and philologists will find plenty to gainsay.

Pop history of the evolution of the Spanish language and its spread through conquest, commerce and culture.

The Phoenicians applied the name Hispania, write Canadian travelers Nadeau and Barlow (co-authors: The Story of French, 2006, etc.), to a strip of Mediterranean shore on which rabbitlike creatures abounded: thus “land of the hyraxes.” There, the language of native Celtic and pre-Celtic peoples met that of the conquering Romans, yielding a blend that would eventually spread across much of the Iberian Peninsula. From there, as the authors chart, it would travel around the world, absorbing streams of words from the languages it encountered—the Visigothic of once-despised masters, the Arabic of Spain’s former rulers, whole vocabularies from the New World. As the authors rightly note, Spanish is not static. A major world language (by their debatable reckoning, the world’s second in terms of number of speakers), it has spun off in many directions, with some 10 varieties spoken in Mexico alone and a highly influential, somewhat simplified version spreading outward from Spanish speakers in the United States. Nadeau and Barlow write engagingly of the “Latin American boom” in literature, which brought Spanish-language writers onto the world stage, and of the stultifying effects of the Franco regime on the language in its homeland. They are less successful in writing of the deep history of Spanish, confusing the causes of the split of Spanish and Portuguese and missing a couple of entertaining if perhaps fugitive theories on why people in Madrid lisp while those in Maracaibo do not.

A useful overview, strong on sociolinguistics, though historical linguists and philologists will find plenty to gainsay.

Pub Date: May 7, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-312-65602-7

Page Count: 496

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: March 10, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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