Through the Language Glass: Why The World Looks Different In Other Languages by Guy Deutscher

December 2022

This is an accessible, amusing introduction to the latest research into the extent to which the language we speak may influence how we experience the world. The most promising approaches to answering this question involve looking at how different languages deal with color terminology, grammatical gender, and spatial directions, and the book is divided into sections which examine each of these areas. If you’re a language nerd like me, you’re probably already familiar with much of the content here, but I appreciated the clear and detailed explanation of some the experiments that have been conducted to determine the links between language and cognition. I especially enjoyed the deep dive into the history of people researching color terminology and perception, and specifically the controversy and confusion surrounding the few and ambiguous references to colors in the Odyssey and Iliad (which led some scholars to speculate that people’s eyes were somehow different in Homer’s age than they are today - spoiler: they’re not). The writing here is maybe a bit too clever for its own good occasionally, with quite a lot of wordplay and puns, but it was enjoyable enough to breeze through the book.

Further reading…