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English is the world language, except that most of the world doesn’t speak it – only one in five people does. The author calculates that to speak fluently with half of the world’s 7.4 billion people in their mother tongues, you would need to know no fewer than twenty languages. He sets out to explore these top twenty world languages, which range from the familiar (French, Spanish) to the surprising (Malay, Javanese, Bengali).
Babel whisks the reader on a delightful journey to every continent of the world, tracing how these world languages rose to greatness while others fell away and showing how speakers today handle the foibles of their mother tongues. Whether showcasing tongue-tying phonetics or elegant but complicated writing scripts, and mind-bending quirks of grammar, Babel vividly illustrates that mother tongues are like nations: each has its own customs and beliefs that seem as self-evident to those born into it as they are surprising to the outside world.
UK: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Blackwells | Foyles | Hive Store | Waterstones | WHSmith
USA: NewPages (independents) | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Hummingbird (ebooks and audiobooks)
Canada: FindaBookstore.ca (independents) | Amazon | Indigo
India: Bookstores in India (independents) | Amazon | Flipkart | Goodreads | Infibeam | SapnaOnline
Ireland: Bookshop Search (independents) | Amazon | Books.ie | Dubray | Eason | Kennys Bookshop
Australia: Bookshops.com.au (independents) | Amazon | Angus & Robertson | Booktopia | Dymocks | Queensland Book Depot
New Zealand: Find a Bookshop (independents) | Amazon | Dymocks | Paper Plus | Whitcoulls
South Africa: Bookshops (independents) | Amazon | Bargain Books | Exclusive Books
Rest of the world: Book Depository | Wordery
Christopher Norris, Jolabokaflod CIC