July 21, 2006

The book for your linguist lover

I have come upon a book that would be the ideal birthday present for the linguist in your life who you feel already has everything, even a copy of Far From the Madding Gerund. (By the way, if you don't have a linguist in your life, you should definitely consider it. When a linguist kisses you, you stay kissed.) The book in question is quite obscure at the moment. The publisher is Battlebridge, located in London and Ahungalla. (Really, Ahungalla. It's in Sri Lanka.) Your linguist lover will not know about it yet. It is called Limits of Language: Almost Everything You Didn't Know You Didn't Know About Language and Languages, and it's by Mikael Parkvall. The ISBN is 9781903292044 in the new 13-digit format prefixed by 978 (Amazon.co.uk uses the older 10-digit form in its database, 1903292042; see this page for information about the change in ISBNs). The publisher sells it at £17.95 at the moment. It seems to be available via Amazon only in the UK and Japan, so have some pounds sterling or yen ready. The book is basically the realization of a fantasy idea I once had for a Linguist's Book of Lists (see chapter 22 of my book The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax). It also has a touch of Guinness Book of World Linguistic Records about it. It is really cute, and absolutely stuffed with linguistic trivia and facts and dates and lists and ephemera and exotica (and a linguist joke or two among the fake endorsement quotes on the back). It's often funny, but also quite serious and useful in many ways. It will delight any member of our fun-loving profession. Buy it, and check it out for yourself before you gift-wrap it for your linguist lover.

Posted by Geoffrey K. Pullum at July 21, 2006 07:26 PM