by Mark Halpern
ISBN: 1-58790-089-0
300 pages • paperback • Pre-Publication price: $24.95

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Language and Human Nature shows how faults in language usage, far from being merely irritants to pedants and esthetes, are often both causes and effects of serious public problems, and explores the strange role that linguistics plays in this turbulent scene. It argues that language change is very different from what linguists suppose, and in doing this it takes issue with Orwell on the rules of good writing, with Chomsky on why children pick up language quickly, with H. P. Lovecraft on the origin of Cthulhu, and with all who speak of linguistic laws, and claim that linguistics is or can be a science.

Mark Halpern is a freelance editor, onetime software designer and programmer, onetime soldier, onetime college instructor in English. He has degrees from City College of New York and Columbia University in English Language & Literature; he’s written a book and several articles on computer programming; and he writes, these days, principally on the topic of the inter-relations among linguistics, language usage, and politics.

"If I had to pick three adjectives to describe Language and Human Nature, they would be: iconoclastic, gutsy and deliciously provocative. (Okay, I threw in an adverb.) Read it and think."
-- William Safire, "On Language" columnist for the New York Times.

"The present book is, to the best of my knowledge, the first thorough discussion of the pros and cons of this debate [between prescriptivists and descriptivists]."
--Jacques Barzun, author of From Dawn to Decadence and many other books on education, American culture, and language usage.

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