LINGO: Around Europe in Sixty Languages
by Gaston Dorren

LINGO: Around Europe in Sixty Languages
by Gaston Dorren

Dear Data by Gaston Dorren is a brisk and informative book in 60 chapters on what Europeans speak. The end of each of its 60 sections shows useful factoids, primarily words that English has borrowed from the language under discussion, and also a word or two "that doesn't exist in English — but perhaps should. Sections:

  1. Next of Tongue: Languages and their families

    Europe's two big language families are Indo-European and Finno-Ugric. The lineage of Finno-Ugric is fairly straightforward, as are its modern variants (Finnish, Hungarian, Estonian). But the pedigree of the Indo-Europeans is a real tangle that ranges through Germanic, Romance and Slavic languages, and more. In some respects, though, its story is like any other family saga, complete with conservative patriarchs (Lithuanian), bickering children (Romansh), orphans (Romanians and other Baltic languages) and kids who find it hard to cut the apron strings.

    1. The life of PIE [Proto-Indo-European]: Lithuanian.
    2. The separated siblings: Finno-Ugric Languages.
    3. Pieces of a broken pitcher: Romansh.
    4. Mother dearest: French.
    5. Know your Slovek from your Slovene: Slavic Languages.
    6. The linguistic orphanage: Balkan languages.
    7. The tenth branch: Ossetian.

  2. Past perfect discontinuous: Languages and their history

    1. The peaceful expansionist? German.
    2. Portugal's mother tongue: Galician.
    3. A language in DK: Danish.
    4. The spoils of defeat ["Britain owes its linguistic diversity largely to having lost so many battles"]: Channel Island Norman.
    5. Languages in exile: Karaim, Ladino and Yiddish [of exiles from 13th and 14th century dialects that preceded today's German].
    6. Frozen in time: Icelandic. A word we could adopt from Icelandic: Jólabókaflód — literally 'Christmas book flood'.

  3. War and peace: Languages and politics

    1. The democratic language: Norwegian. A word we could adopt from Norwegian: Døgn — a period of 24 hours; a day-and-night cycle.
    2. Two addresses to the people of Belarus: Belarus(s)ian.
    3. Kleinsteinish and its neighbours: Luxembourgish. A word we could adopt from Luxembourgish: Verkënnen — to gradually experience the effects of old age in body and mind.
    4. Longing for languagehood: Scots and Fresian. A word we could adopt from Scots: Sitoorerie — literally 'sit-out-ery', a place for intimate togetherness, like a sun room, but also a secluded corner at a party.
    5. Much a-du about you, and him: Swedish.
    6. Four countries — and more than a club: Catalan.
    7. Four languages and zero goodwill: Serbo-Croatian.

  4. Werds, wirds, wurds ...: Written and spoken

    1. 'Hácek!' — 'Bless you': Czech.
    2. Szczesny, Pszkit and Korzeniowski: Polish.
    3. Broad and slender tweets: Scots Gaelic. A word we could adopt from Scots Gaelic: Bourach — a particularly Scottish mess.
    4. Learning your Russian.
    5. Pin the name on the language: following the clues.
    6. The Iberian machine gun: Spanish.
    7. Mountains of dialects: Slovene. A word we could adopt from Slovene: Vrtickar — a hobby gardener with an allotment, perhaps as a cover for conviviality; could be extended to refer to people with any hobby and such a preference.
    8. Hide and speak? Shelta and Anglo-Romani.

  5. Nuts and bolts: Languages and their vocabulary

    1. Export/Import: Greek.
    2. Arrival in Porto: Portuguese.
    3. Meet the Snorbs: Snorbian.
    4. Small, sweet, slim, sturdy, sexy, stupid little women: Italian.
    5. A snowstorm in a teacup: Sami.
    6. Deciphering the language of numbers: Breton.

  6. Talking by the book: Languages and their grammar

    1. Gender-bending: Dutch. A word we could adopt from Dutch: Uitwaaien — relax by visiting a windy place, often chilly and rainy.
    2. A case history: Romani.
    3. A much-needed merger: Bulgarian-Slovak.
    4. Nghwm starts with a C: Welsh.
    5. Strictly ergative: Basque.
    6. Note to self: Ukranian.

  7. Intensive care: Languages on the brink and beyond

    1. Networking in Monaco: Monégasque.
    2. A narrow escape: Irish.
    3. No laughing matter: Gagauz.
    4. The death of a language: Dalmatian.
    5. The church at Kernow: Cornish. A word we could adopt from Cornish: Henting — raining hard. Also Zuggans — juice or essence.
    6. Back from the brink: Manx.

  8. Movers and shakers: Linguists who left their mark

    1. Ludovit Stúr, the hero linguist: Slovak.
    2. The father of Albanology: Albanian.
    3. An unexpected standard: Germanic languages.
    4. The no-hoper: Esperanto. A word we could adopt from Esperanto: Esperinto — somebody who used to be hopeful but no longer is.
    5. The national war hero who wasn't: Macedonian.
    6. A godless alphabet: Turkish.

  9. Warts and all: Linguistic portrait studies

    1. Spell as you speak: Finnish.
    2. Romans north of Hadrian's Wall: Faroese.
    3. A meaningful silence: Sign language.
    4. Armenian.
    5. Plain lonely: Hungarian.
    6. An Afro-Asiatic in Europe: Maltese.
    7. The global headache: English.

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