This is a book about languages and the people who love them.
Sophie Hardach is here to guide us through the strange and wonderful ways that humans have used languages throughout history. She takes us from the earliest Mesopotamian clay tablets and the 'book cemeteries' of medieval synagogues to the first sounds a child hears in their mother's womb and their incredible capacity for language learning. Along the way, Hardach explores the role of trade in transmitting words across cultures and untangles riddles of hieroglyphics, cuneiform and the ancient scripts of Crete and Cyprus. This is a book about languages, the people who love them and the linguistic threads that connect us all.
'Impeccably researched and engagingly presented ... Sophie Hardach tells wonderful stories about words that have travelled vast distances in space and time to make English what it is' David Bellos, author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything
'Sophie Hardach tells wonderful stories about words that have travelled vast distances in space and time to make English what it is. Impeccably researched and engagingly presented, this fascinating book shows how languages arise, grow, borrow, mix and blend. If you aren't sure what the point of learning another language is, then you need to read this book!' --David Bellos, author of Is That a Fish in Your Ear? Translation and the Meaning of Everything
About the Author
Sophie Hardach is the author of three novels, The Registrar's Manual for Detecting Forced Marriages, about Kurdish refugees, Of Love and Other Wars, about pacifists during World War Two, and Confession with Blue Horses, about the repercussions of the division of Germany on the lives of individuals. Also a journalist, she worked as a correspondent for Reuters news agency in Tokyo, Paris and Milan and and has written for a number of publications including the Guardian, BBC Future and The Economist. Her first non-fiction book, Languages Are Good For Us, was published by Head of Zeus in 2021.