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 11, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2013

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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