MAN MUST SPEAK: The Story of Language and How We Use It by Roy A Gallant

MAN MUST SPEAK: The Story of Language and How We Use It

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Language as a distinctly human phenomenon, in a brisk, bright explication. This begins, with a fairly extensive survey of forms of animal communication--courtship patterns, chemical signals, sounds and gestures, stimulus-response behaviors--and the author is careful to distinguish action from ""thought""; in fact, an early point, and one returned to strategically, is the error of anthropomorphism (as per Walt Disney et al.). Gallant's primary differential: an animal acts not because of thought but in response to an environment; man, on the other hand, has the habit of speech built into his biological system. The section on language growth (""From Ugh! to Ungulate""), which summarily traces English on the Indo-European language tree, is quite abbreviated but not overly simplified; the discussion of the development of writing is more extensive (several decipherments) and, ending with a few pages on ""Playing with Language"" (palindromes, alliteration), leads into some examples of how words color experience (sesquipedalian words, jargon and genteelisms) and how vocabulary (and, implicitly, structure) reflects world views. He does not consider the more subtle aspects of human communication (as in Chase's recent Danger--Men Talking, p. 1012, J-384) but he does mention the comparative appeals of various mass media. Further, the illustrations are apt (a Yamashiro silk screen reproduction and a dictionary extract listing 34 definitions for the word ""fowl"" as well as the more expectable hieroglyphs) and the idiom is animated and current.

Pub Date: Oct. 13th, 1969
Publisher: Random House