A History of Language by Steven Roger Fischer
Steven Roger Fischer's fascinating book charts the history of communication from the time before human language was conceived through to the media explosion of the present day. Describing modes of communication between whales, birds, insects and primates and suggesting the first contexts in which the concept of 'language' might be applied, Fischer moves from the early abilities of Homo erectus to the spread of languages worldwide, analyzing the effect of the development of writing along the way. With the founding of the science of linguistics in the nineteenth century, the nature of language first came to be understood; Fischer charts the evolution of linguists' insights and the relationship of language to social change into mid-1900s. Taking into account the rise of pidgin, Creole, jargon and slang, he raises provocative questions about literature's - and literacy's - relationship to language. Finally, touching on the effects of radio, television, propaganda and advertising, Fischer looks to the future, asking how electronic media are daily reshaping the world's languages and suggesting a radical reinterpretation of what language really is.