Half the world's population speaks a language that has evolved from a single prehistoric mother tongue. First spoken in Stone Age times on the steppes of central Eurasia 6,500 years ago, this mother tongue spread from the shores of the Black Sea across almost all of Europe and much of Asia. It is the genetic basis of everything we speak and write today - the DNA of language.
Written in Stone combines detective work, mythology, ancient history, archaeology, the roots of society, technology and warfare, and the sheer fascination of words to explore that original mother tongue, sketching the connections woven throughout the immense vocabulary of English, with some surprising results. In snappy, lively, and often very funny chapters, Written in Stone uncovers the most influential and important words used by our Neolithic ancestors and shows how they are still in constant use today - the building blocks of all our most common words and phrases.
"Stevens, an adventurer in language, demonstrates considerable prowess in making the journey both edifying and entertaining." (
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I thought I would enjoy this book, as I'm very interested in the subject matter. But the book is a very short introduction of the development of the theory of a proto-Indo European language, followed by chapter after chapter exploring examples of words in English ( and to a lesser extent other languages ) that the writer claims come from those simple original words. This is mildly interesting for a few goes but soon becomes tedious, especially as there seems to be quite a lot of cherry-picking for words that suit. He doesn't at all explore the interesting part of the theory: how on earth do they *know* what our pre-historic ancestors spoke like? I'd hesitate to recommend this book to anyone.
Possibly something by David Crystal.
The introduction isn't bad.
Good if you have no knowledge of linguistics
I think this book is good for someone with no prior knowledge of the subject as it is organised logically and does not use many technical terms. The author also uses examples from everyday language to make points and even attemps a joke occasionally. The book does a surprisingly good job of giving an overview of the Stone Age roots of language considering its medium length.
I found the narration alright but I think some people might find it flat.