Wednesday, 21 September 2016

The Kingdom of Speech

(September 2016)

Not a book so much as (very) long-form journalism, and exemplifying both the strengths and the weaknesses of the genre. I will refer you elsewhere for far more erudite refutations of Wolfe's linguistic scholarship than I could hope to manage. It should, however, be noted early that the concern of this book is only tangentially language; The Kingdom of Speech is really interested in how ideas are born, tested, and accepted or rejected. Almost by accident Wolfe gives us something far more interesting than his fatuously simplistic notions of linguistic evolution. Behold instead the 'Swinging Dick' theory of scientific advancement.