McWhorter's "The Story of Human Language"

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McWhorter's "The Story of Human Language"

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Redigeret: jun 17, 2010, 6:58am

I'm about half-way through McWhorter's Teaching Company lectures, The Story of Human Language.

I'm enjoying it a lot. The "Teaching Company" has always seemed a racket to me--pretentious and potted, not mention expensive. This has that element, like the silly horn music and the absurd room he's in, with the encyclopedias and silly tea-stand. But the content is great, and McWhorter even fights against the format somewhat. At one point he says that he's been told he's not moving around the room enough, so he smiles slyly, walks about four feet to the right and stands there, behaving exactly the same way as before. At various points he sings or tells off-topic jokes. As far as expensive, a friend lent me her copy.

The content is fairly elementary and much of which I already knew or knew much of. That makes it enjoyable to listen to while working, which wouldn't be possible if every word were new. And much detectably from his Power of Babble, which I enjoyed. But the format gives me the feeling I'm actually retaining more of the new information than I might otherwise, and it's really a pure pleasure.

Has anyone seen it?

Redigeret: jun 17, 2010, 8:39am

I love Teaching Company lectures (there's a group devoted to them here), and McWhorter's are probably my favorites. Dude is passionate about dialects. Unfortunately, I was only able to listen to Story of Human Language because my library doesn't carry the DVD versions. His other other lecture, Understanding Linguistics: The Science of Language is worth a listen too if you can get a hold of it. Seth Lerer did one as well called History of the English Language.

fixed touchstone

jun 17, 2010, 8:36am

Ah, cool. I didn't know he did any others.

jun 17, 2010, 1:34pm

Good to know. I hadn't realized he'd done any, but yeah, my knowledge of Teaching Company lectures doesn't tend to come directly from their catalog.

I've always wished there was more solid linguistics content available on iTunes U.

jun 17, 2010, 1:51pm

I've always wished there was more solid linguistics content available on iTunes U.

Me too. Have you listened to the University of Arizona offerings?

jun 17, 2010, 3:07pm

A few. The format and recording quality leave a lot to be desired.

jun 17, 2010, 5:33pm

I have the audio CD version, which I prefer to DVD because I'd rather listen in the car. I haven't listened yet, though -- I keep forgetting to bring them with me in the car!

jun 26, 2010, 11:31pm

I have heard a couple of extensive interviews with John McWhorter on BookTV (CSPAN 2).

jun 27, 2010, 12:10pm

Wow! I have been watching the Teaching Company lectures since the mid-nineties.
For the most part I think they are terrific. McWhorter is a fine teacher and knows his stuff. He is also easy on the eyes. I'm 64. I need easy on the eyes!
The set on the Teaching Co. has evolved from a curtain to something a bit more presentable. The furniture changes, the tea table changes,etc. The quality of the lectures is the thing.
Before I retired from my large city library and before I decided to go to seminary I ordered a lot of T.C. lectures for my own library and or libraries around my state. If you life in MA try the Virtual Catalog. Cheers.