Monday, June 25, 2007

A Most Excellent Book On Language

Gotham Books; New York; 2003

This is a most excellent book on language---Especially as to English and Music. Although Mr. McWhorter does have some biases and has some few holes in his knowledge, he most certainly added to both my store of facts and, more importantly, range of concepts about language, English and, where I am most weak, music.

This book must be read without too many comments by me so as to allow the reader to better appreciate it--And any thinking reader will appreciate it.

If I have any faults to find with this volume, they are:
1. The organization of the book is not conducive to easy reading and movement
from one chapter to another;
2. The author does make a very few errors of fact (eg Albanian is spoken in
places other than Albania, such as what was once Yugoslavia, parts of
Greece and even Sicily and clusters of speakers in such places as Chicago);
3. Mr. McWhorter fails, I think, to place enough weight on the teaching of Logic
as part of the classical teaching of Rhetoric, as a separate subject or as
integral to the former;
4. He also, I think, fails to (Strongly) note that the reason Arabic has a standard, classical, form still enforced is a matter of a religious imperative as strong as that requiring jihad by Muslims;
5. As for the stability of other languages, it is a matter of the conjugations and
declensions required in them which keeps them inflexible and stable (As a
Polish friend noted, he could read the original of 400-year old Polish works
without a dictionary, something most, even educated, English speakers
cannot do in our word-intoxicated language); And,
6. This author did show some anti-Israel bias when noting the shooting of
Palestinians, but not the rocket and bomb attacks against the residents
of Israel.

If Mr. McWhorter (Or, anyone else) is interested in another work on what rhetoric should be, he (We) should read Mr Lloyd Paul Stryker's The Art Of Advocacy.

Also and as a matter of opinion, the truly Rev. Martin Luther King's best speech was not the "let freedom ring" but that of "I have a dream".

Certainly, Mr. McWhorter adds to human knowledge and NOT, to paraphrase a one time Speaker Of The House, "subtracts from the sum-total of human knowledge with every word spoken or put in print" as so many other teachers, editors and critics have.

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