UK subtitle?  I don't know
Lingo: Around Europe in Sixty Languages, by Gaston Dorren

Oooh, languages!  I love languages and their weird quirks.  As a teenager I wanted to learn a lot of them, and I did try--but it's not as easy as I wish it were!

Dorren is Dutch, which gives him a little different perspective.  It's refreshing for me.  And this is a fun little book; it's not a big serious treatment of European languages, but a little dip into the qualities or oddities of each one.  Every language gets a short chapter, and he talks about whatever he feels like talking about.  That might be a historical anecdote, an unusual grammatical feature, or the subtleties of what makes a dialect.  I expected the Danish chapter to maybe talk about articles (which are stuck on to the end of a word, and he talks about that feature in...Hungarian maybe?), but instead it was about the history of how Danish hegemony shrank down to almost nothing.

There are languages here that nobody really speaks any more (Dalmatian), languages resurrected to a new life (Manx, Cornish, and others), languages you've never heard of (Sorbian, Monegasque, Gagauz), sign languages, and even Esperanto.  And the final chapter, on English, is titled "the global headache."

It is all very fun.  This is a great book to keep for reading over lunch, or dipping into at random.  I learned a bunch of neat things and enjoyed myself the whole time.


  1. Oh it sounds super fun! It sounds like just the thing my magpie mind needs right now -- plenty of fun facts to learn, but not too demanding. :D

  2. Yep, this is the perfect book!

  3. I also always wanted to learn multiple languages but it was much harder than I thought it would be and I chose ridiculous languages like Welsh to try out. I think I'll just stick to increasing my basic skills in the romance languages (and keep refreshing my español!).

  4. Oh, I always want to learn ridiculous languages too. I'd totally pick Welsh. I want to learn Hindi. I had a wish to learn Czech but decided to be sensible and study Russian instead....

  5. I admire those who are able to speak multiple languages. I took Spanish for many years and sampled German and French in a language class on year (Latin, was also included). I was always too afraid to practice and so picking up a second language never took. I toyed with the idea of putting my daughter in a Spanish immersion program, but the long wait list was a deterrent.

    While this isn't a book I would normally pick up to read for myself, it does sound fun and interesting. I will have to look for it.


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