The Language Lover’s Puzzle Book

I just wish this book had been published 20 years ago!

Alex Bellos has compiled an amazing collection of language-related puzzles in the Language Lover’s Puzzle Bookreleased a few month ago in the UK and more recently elsewhere in the English-speaking world, including the U.S.

But wait, there’s more! It’s not just puzzles (accompanied by, of course, answers and explanations). There’s also a nice tidbit of text accompanying each puzzle, not like a textbook but enough to give some context and whet your appetite. The great resonance with me is that the whole endeavor bears a remarkable similarity to the kind of linguistic puzzles I used to give to some of my classes; I call them linguistic lagniappes (“Creole for ‘something extra’,” as Callie Crossley likes to say).

Here is an example. Figure out the patterns and fill in the blanks. Answers available next week:

Proto-Germanic English German Icelandic
*krampaz cramp Krampf krampar
*aplu     epli
*swanaz swan Schwan svanur
*þrīz three drei þrīr
*jæran year Jahr ár
*þūman   Daumen þumalfingur
*þurnuz     þyrnir
*wurðan   Wort orð
  sword  Schwert sverð


Categories: Books, Linguistics, Teaching & Learning