Recently, my language arts class read a book called Seedfolks, by Paul Fleischman. It’s a short story about a neighborhood in Cleveland where, at first, barely anybody knows or cares about their own neighbors. But when a girl plants some beans in a corner of a vacant lot that people have been throwing trash into, people notice. Before long, the dirty, foul-smelling lot is a thriving garden, which changes everybody near it. The garden becomes a community. It gives hope to those who think their lives are hopeless, meaning to those who think their lives are meaningless, and family to those who have lost their own.

I love this book because it tells a story rich with complexity in under 60 pages. It weaves together the lives of thirteen very different people. It shows struggle and hardship honestly, yet it tells an ultimately happy story. It resembles reality in that, though it chooses to end where it does, it is clear that the story will keep going past the end of the book. It’s the kind of book that one can read over and over again, each time uncovering a new layer of meaning. Each chapter is written from a different character’s perspective, and as the story unfolds new conflicts arise and are conquered. Overall, I found Seedfolks a beautiful story, and I highly recommend it for a read that is quick yet will give you some food for thought.

Linguistics Time!

Hello! I’m sorry it’s been a while since I last posted. Lately, I’ve been getting into linguistics. The two books I’m going to review are by the same author, John McWhorter. The first, The Power of
, was written in 2001. It focuses on the idea that all six thousand of the world’s languages originated from a “proto-language” that split off into several others millenia ago. It explains how languages evolve into new ones and how they split off into first different dialects and then different languages altogether. It also describes how pidgins and creoles form, and provides examples such  as Tok Pisin. I found some parts a little dense, but overall it’s a great insight into the development of language.

The second book, What Language Is (and What it Isn’t and What it Could be) was written ten years later. In this book, McWhorter gives a more general idea of how linguists see languages and dialects, as opposed to how many other people see them. He shows the true grandeur of language, too often overlooked in teachings. The book is split into five different parts: Language is Ingrown, Disheveled, Intricate, Oral, and Mixed.

Overall, I found this book much more accessible than the first, and it gave a deeper look into how languages work, rather than how they are formed. In both of the books, there are detailed descriptions and examples of McWhorter’s points, and both of them gave me a deeper understanding of language as a whole.

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