Four Words for Friend: Why Using More than One Language Matters Now More than Ever



Four Words for Friend: Why Using More than One Language Matters Now More than EverA Compelling Argument About The Importance Of Using Than One Language In Today S World In A World That Has English As Its Global Language And Rapidly Advancing Translation Technology, It S Easy To Assume That The Need To Use Than One Language Will Diminish But Marek Kohn Argues That Plural Language Use Is Important Than Ever In A Divided World, It Helps Us To Understand Ourselves And Others Better, To Live Together Better, And To Make The Most Of Our Various Cultures Kohn, Whom The Guardian Has Called One Of The Best Science Writers We Have, Brings Together Perspectives From Psychology, Evolutionary Thought, Politics, Literature, And Everyday Experience He Explores How People Acquire Languages How They Lose Them How They Can Regain Them How Different Languages May Affect People S Perceptions, Their Senses Of Self, And Their Relationships With Each Other And How To Resolve The Fundamental Contradiction Of Languages, That They Exist As Much To Prevent Communication As To Make It Happen.

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Four Words for Friend: Why Using More than One Language Matters Now More than Ever book, this is one of the most wanted Marek Kohn author readers around the world.

Read ➲ Four Words for Friend: Why Using More than One Language Matters Now More than Ever Author Marek Kohn – Heartforum.co.uk
  • Hardcover
  • 264 pages
  • Four Words for Friend: Why Using More than One Language Matters Now More than Ever
  • Marek Kohn
  • English
  • 09 February 2017
  • 0300231083

10 thoughts on “Four Words for Friend: Why Using More than One Language Matters Now More than Ever

  1. Warwick says:

    Among the many asymmetries that worked to Britain s disadvantage in its negotiations to leave the European Union, Marek Kohn notes, in one of the barbed asides that punctuate this book, was the twenty seven other nations fluent grasp of the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, unmatched by any corresponding British familiarity with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or Bild It s a point that seems especially clear from where I sit, as an Englishman living in German speaking Central Europe, t Among the many asymmetries that worked to Britain s disadvantage in its negotiations to leave the European Union, Marek Kohn notes, in one of the barbed asides that punctuate this book, was the twenty seven other nations fluent grasp of the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, unmatched by any corresponding British familiarity with the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung or Bild It s a point that seems especially clear from where I sit, as an Englishman living in German speaking Central Europe, though I suppose it only takes you so far one is loth, after all, to understress the drastic incompetence of the British politicians involved.For a writer from the UK to be expatiating on the joys and benefits of multilingualism now, mid Brexit, is not a timely coincidence Kohn was inspired to the subject directly by seeing the nasty flare up of xenophobia that followed the 2016 referendum Kohn, whose family are from Poland, found himself responding not with a stronger desire to identify as British, but, on the contrary, with a stronger desire to assert his Polish heritage and to properly learn the language which until then he had spoken only poorly and infrequently.One of the themes of this book is the ways in which language is used both to bind people together and, conversely, to establish lines of difference between one community and another Pragmatic arguments migrants should speak English to avoid misunderstandings in the workplace, or to make friends in the playground shade into demands of adogmatic cast this is the language of the country, so if you want to live here, you had better speak it The end point of this mindset can be lethal, as easily seen all over the world Kohn retails several examples, including from the Middle East where not long ago, for instance,a bus was boarded by armed men, one of whom held a tomato and demanded each passenger tell him what it was those who said it was a banadura , identifying themselves as Lebanese, were ordered off the bus those who called it a bandura , revealing themselves to be Palestinians, remained on the bus and were slaughtered.Similar incidents were common during the Balkans conflicts too This was, remember, the original function of a shibboleth Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth and he said Sibboleth for he could not frame to pronounce it right Then they took him, and slew him at the passages of Jordan New Orleans, 2017Not all of the book, though, is on such a life or death level as this a lot of it simply has to do with Kohn trying to get to grips with the latest research into bilingualism, what its beneficial effects are on the brain if any , and how it might affect someone s view of society.I really admired the ideas animating the book, but Kohn s layman viewpoint did occasionally give me pause He doesn t write as a linguistic researcher, or even as an expert commentator on the field his previous books have been on subjects as diverse as Darwinism and British drug culture if anything, he is writing as an interested bilingual person, although given his confessedly rusty knowledge of Polish, even this is a bit of a stretch Which makes his conclusions sometimes a little shaky.A lot of his discussions of different languages have a decidedly neo Whorfian tone which I think we should be cautious about for instance, after considering languages with evidential grammar like Turkish , he decides that it is easy to infer that a population largely trusts its broadcasters if they accept that the default mode for news reports is the first hand form This is quite a leap Linguists tend to be suspicious of this kind of argument, not because it is totally without truth but rather because it so easily blends with arguments from pure stereotype German is ordered and utilitarian, Italian baroque and expressive, etc etc.He also sometimes displays a quasi mystical, literalist view of languages untranslatability, of the kind that is very rarely shared by people who actually translate professionally or even regularly When talking about how Spanish speakers describe breaking a box, for example, he seems almost deliberately obtuse They could say se me rompi , which can only be translated nonsensically or awkwardly in English it broke to me , to me it happened that it broke.Huh This example is especially weird because English actually has a very similar impersonal prepositional construction it broke on me.Being born in an English speaking country used to be quite an advantage Nowadays, it s almost a disadvantage, since everyone of basic education in the rest of the world speaks English anyway, and they speak a couple of other languages as well And those who speak it as a second language may be getting extra benefits when it s used, since research suggests that using a non native language helps you bypass emotional, knee jerk reactions something called the foreign language effect Again, Kohn can t help seeing Brexit as a case in point Britain, speaking English and only English, based its decisions on emotions and found itself in disarray The twenty seven countries on the other side, speaking English among themselves, achieved a remarkable degree of coherence, based on a clear understanding of their collective interests.Well, maybe Certainly for those who do speakthan one language, or who want to speakthan one language, this book is full of fascinating anecdotes and studies to help consider what it means in a new light And despite his flirtations with linguistic determinism, Kohn s conclusions on language are unimpeachable Its effects on thought are disputed Its effects upon the relations between people are indisputable

  2. Raluca says:

    Finding paths through language territories may not require maps, but it does require guiding principles This book follows several one is that paths are worth finding The use ofthan one language is a good thing not always, not necessarily, not inherently, but in most circumstances and in spirit, it is good There are many reasons for this, but the underlying one is that it favours a complex of goods openness, interconnection, inclusion, mutual exchange and the sharing of knowledge.A Finding paths through language territories may not require maps, but it does require guiding principles This book follows several one is that paths are worth finding The use ofthan one language is a good thing not always, not necessarily, not inherently, but in most circumstances and in spirit, it is good There are many reasons for this, but the underlying one is that it favours a complex of goods openness, interconnection, inclusion, mutual exchange and the sharing of knowledge.Another is that the two sided character of language must always be recognised It is the place from which the path has to start We will get hopelessly lost if we lose sight of the truth that language exists as much to prevent communication as to make it happen This is not really a paradox the design logic of enabling information to circulate within a group, while restricting its ability to enter or leave, is all too easy to grasp There you have it the two sides of human nature, inward community and outward exclusion, the latter the engine of the former Sympathy is generated by drawing limits around it To transcend this design, to liberate those better angels of our nature, we need to treat the dual character of language as a contradiction that must be resolved, or at least mitigated.The third basic principle, that all of a person s linguistic resources should be valued, helps to ease the conflict Under this principle, languages are treated with due respect, but not with undue deference A language is regarded not as an edifice within which a community is housed and to which individuals may aspire to gain admission, but as an assembly of elements which individuals are free to use as they wish This does not mean that maintaining its integrity and sustaining its vitality are unimportant Quite the reverse the better shape a language is in, theuse its elements will be A healthy language will keep its identity while encouraging a rich variety of relationships to flourish across its boundaries, in different combinations, balances, modes and registers, at different levels of proficiency Its perimeter will not be a dumb fence it will be a complex and productive interface, like the membrane of a living cell Yet the key to this complexity is the simple principle that we should make the most of whatever we can grasp It is a practical, everyday way to reduce the inherent tensions of language use.The first steps are simple too Make what you can of the words you hear and see, spoken, written or signed Start speaking, and keep going. This is not your average book on amateur level linguistics, mostly because Kohn isn t a linguist He s just a guy who thinks languages are cool and usingof them, even to varying degrees of fluency, helps bring people together Of course I m oversimplifying, but not by sooo much Yes, the examples he uses will be familiar to readers of similar texts we ve heard the Russian has separate words for dark vs light blue thing before And yes, he stands a bit too close to neo Whorfianism or rather, a bit too close to statements which could, in turn, get very Whorf y But he does raise and try to answer interesting questions on what languages do and mean How do different countries handle multilingualism Awkwardly and inconsistently Is learning a second language actually beneficial to brain health Results are inconclusive on the physiological front, but learn them anyway Do we become other people when speaking different languages Sure seems like it subjectively, and personality tests given in certain languages do seem to activate the traits stereotypically associated with the language and its respective culture Will the likely improvement and ever wider availability of instantaneous translation software make learning several languages useless Nope Babel fish will be great for shopping and useless for jokes and poetry I d recommend this book to just about everyone, and especially to anyone who s been on either the giving or the receiving end of a in country X we speak Xish comment Can t we all just get along

  3. Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits) says:

    Seeof my book reviews on my blog, Literary FlitsI have always been fascinated by language, especially the ways in which different languages have diverged but still retain links to each other I didn t consider my own second language, French, to be fluent enough to claim bilingualism for myself, but Kohn s recognition of the wide variety of ways in bilingualism is vital globally means it would be I was inspired to pick up a new Book in French right after reading this Four Words For Friend Seeof my book reviews on my blog, Literary FlitsI have always been fascinated by language, especially the ways in which different languages have diverged but still retain links to each other I didn t consider my own second language, French, to be fluent enough to claim bilingualism for myself, but Kohn s recognition of the wide variety of ways in bilingualism is vital globally means it would be I was inspired to pick up a new Book in French right after reading this Four Words For Friend explores in great depth what it means to be bilingual or trilingual or quadrilingual and how societies have always used language as a way to both reach out to other communities, and to close ranks against them, for as long as we ve known how to converse.As someone who actively searches out books in translation I am very aware of how much effort is involved in the task of rendering one culture s idioms into concepts with which someone from a different culture can connect As Robin Wall Kimmerer noted in Braiding Sweetgrass, a society s use of language demonstrates a lot about their way of life and beliefs Nuances of meaning are difficult to pin down and I was particularly interested in Kohn s explanations of how everyday bilingual interpretation enhances our brain activity throughout our lives I ve often read novels where characters are speaking in one language whilst listening in another and, as an English woman, being amazed by the concept Yet for much of the world, this interconnection is perfectly normal and the practice may even go some way towards explaining lower dementia rates in those societies.I remember being shocked, and a little saddened, some time ago by a fellow reader s statement that they only read books set in English speaking countries because they hated authors including a smattering of foreign words that they don t understand and won t google For me, half the fun of my WorldReads is picking up random vocabulary I appreciated Kohn s discussions of a number of scientific studies and the difficulties scientists and sociologists encountered in definitively isolating measurable effects of bilingualism His understanding of the emotional divisiveness of this subject, especially in Brexit England where for years now we have been constantly bombarded with the myth of a certain preferred Englishness, makes for interesting and enlightening reading

  4. Yehudit Reishtein says:

    An examination of bilingualism and multilingualism Kohn probes a what might seem like an esoteric subject, exploring the advantages of speakingthan one language to individuals as well as the problems it causes in societies For example, he spends a full chapter exploring Latvia s two language populations Even though the minority population of Russian speakers must use the Latvian language in all public functions, their children attend Russian schools The schools are mandated to increa An examination of bilingualism and multilingualism Kohn probes a what might seem like an esoteric subject, exploring the advantages of speakingthan one language to individuals as well as the problems it causes in societies For example, he spends a full chapter exploring Latvia s two language populations Even though the minority population of Russian speakers must use the Latvian language in all public functions, their children attend Russian schools The schools are mandated to increase the amount of classes whose instructional language is Latvian tothan half the day He gives examples of how languages divide societies and peoples, by helping native speakers determine who is one of us and who is a stranger It s a fascinating read, and may stimulate readers to develop their language fluencies

  5. Cassandra says:

    I think this book is fabulous and recommend it Inspired by modern nationalism, xenophobia and global tensions, he examines what it means to be bilingual From the start, he asserts his view that language is fluid and there is inclusiveness in diversity The sections cover what does it mean to be bilingual, how does one learn multiple languages at home, the cognitive science and debates of bilingualism, and national identity and economic power examples are Latvia, Singapore, and India I found I think this book is fabulous and recommend it Inspired by modern nationalism, xenophobia and global tensions, he examines what it means to be bilingual From the start, he asserts his view that language is fluid and there is inclusiveness in diversity The sections cover what does it mean to be bilingual, how does one learn multiple languages at home, the cognitive science and debates of bilingualism, and national identity and economic power examples are Latvia, Singapore, and India I found it very interesting, though there are a few times where evidence and interpretation are confused, but I enjoyed reading a subject that is so core to human experience yet I never get to really dig into

  6. Laura says:

    A fascinating exploration of bilingualism and its benefits for individuals and societies.

  7. Andrea says:

    Very interesting and academically presented I would recommend it but I don t necessarily see myself re reading it.

  8. Dora Okeyo says:

    This book is relevant today and I love how the author explores language, the ability to relate to different people and cultures and what role language plays in all this.It s an engaging read and for someone who speaks three languages fluently and struggled to learn Chinese and Spanish later on in college, I d say that the author explores aspects about language and how powerful it is in relationships on any level and though that s always been said, what s fresh with this book is research on the h This book is relevant today and I love how the author explores language, the ability to relate to different people and cultures and what role language plays in all this.It s an engaging read and for someone who speaks three languages fluently and struggled to learn Chinese and Spanish later on in college, I d say that the author explores aspects about language and how powerful it is in relationships on any level and though that s always been said, what s fresh with this book is research on the historical accounts on language.Thanks Netgalley for the eARC

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