Written In Stone

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1st edition US hardcover.

Written In Stone: The Stone Age Origins of Our Modern-Day Language is an book of etymology by Christopher Stevens and published in 2015-11-16. It focuses on words from the proto-indo-European language family and claims to have discovered words that can be traced back all the way to the Stone Age.

Status

I do not own this book, but I have listened to an audio book version of it. I finished it on 2018-07-24.

Review

Good

  • Overall, this book expanded my understanding of English quite a bit.
  • Seeing how so many English words are just compounds of basic concepts was very eye-opening. I know a lot were, but some of them were unexpected.
  • I loved it when a series of seemingly unconnected words were shown to be connected just with minor spelling variations that prevented my mind from grouping them.
  • I actually liked the references to modern pop culture in the book.

Bad

  • Nearly all of the etymologies in the book are presented as though their origin is perfectly known, even when experts disagree.
  • The author asserts, without evidence, that several of the oldest root words are onomatopoeic, but many of them sound like a stretch.

Ugly

  • One especially glaring error is when the author says that Amazon women were not only historically real, but that they destroyed their right breast to be better archers, and the word "Amazon" means "without breast." All three of these points are most likely untrue [1], and have been strongly doubted for decades. Such a glaring mistake makes me question the veracity of his other etymologies.

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