Monday, February 1, 2016

Book Review: Lingo

Lingo: A Language Spotter's Guide to Europe
Gaston Dorren

The subtitle gives a good idea of what this book is like. For all intents and purposes, it's a hobbyist's identification guide, much like the ones I had as a kid for identifying rocks and seashells. The chapters are short, the facts are interesting, the writing is amusing. There's not much in the way of an overarching thesis or an argumentative stance. In short, IYTTSMSIYPETB. (I liked it very much.)


  1. I do a little bit of that in Asia. Having spent enough time here, I can spot someone from Korea, not by clothing, but the sound of the language. I don't speak Korean, mind you. I can say maybe 12 words, mostly because they sound the same in Chinese or Japanese. But the R's in Korean are different from anything else. I can spot a Taiwan speaker of Chinese vs. someone from Beijing because of the difference in the SH sound. It's fun. Like bird watching I guees, though I never enjoyed that.

    1. To be precise, Lingo is more about grammar, structure, and linguistics than about sound. So it's probably easier to use it as a spotter's guide to written language.

      I'm good with accents. I managed to live in Texas without picking up any Texan, but whenever we travel to the UK I have to guard against speaking Britishly.

    2. Having spent a large part of my life learning languages, I picked up a habit of mimicking. This is good when it is another language, not so good when you go to England and can't pull off an accent. The one time I was in London (1993?), I bought a movie ticket with a bad British accent and deservedly got weird stares.

      I also picked up a bad habit of self-talk, rehearsing conversations in advance. Not too bad when you can't remember how to say xyz in Japanese, but a bad habit in general. You end up looking like a crazy homeless person

    3. I have the rehearsing habit as well. I spent the summer studying German, and now certain conversational gambits are engraved on my frontal lobes. Which doesn't mean I can understand the replies!

    4. What does IYTTSMSIYPETB mean?

      BTW, Google returns the following

      Did you mean: ITSMYSEAT B

      Followed by one link to your blog

    5. Follow the link!

      (It means "If you think the subject matter sounds interesting, you'll probably enjoy this book.")

    6. Following the link didnt seem to make sense. That's why I asked. Seems like it was a query for seashells

      "Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Seashells."

      Is that what it means?

    7. It wasn't supposed to be a query--just a link to the review where I first made the observation. I've fixed the link.

  2. The 'i' in IYTTSMSIYPETB looks like an 'L'. I think that's part of the confusion. Sean your results sound interesting all the same? Snapshot?

  3. Nah, it means the following

    If you think the subject matter sounds interesting, you'll probably enjoy this book.

    Sounds like I'd enjoy it.