Trip of the Tongue by Elizabeth Little
Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's Languages

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Though we speak English as a nation, it's no secret that America is far from uniform. Spanish, in particular, has long been touted as the language that will figure into our national future; much has been written about the need to recognize it in our laws and schools.Yet billing America as a bilingual country is a gross misrepresentation. They speak Basque in Nevada, Hindi in San Jose, and Gullah in South Carolina. We speak European, Asian, and Native American languages, as well as hybrids like Creole and Spanglish. And Elizabeth Little's home--Queens, New York--is among the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse places on the planet.Small surprise, then, that Little felt a yearning to find the cultural and linguistic soul of the country. And she has done it in the most American way imaginable: on a road trip.This book is the result: a festive roadmap of the bounties of our country. We'll learn about the struggle of the French-speaking population of Maine to get along with the community around them; the traditional ways of the German-speaking Amish in Pennsylvania; and the rich history of the little-known African population of Nantucket. Elizabeth Little is a witty and endearing tourguide for this memorable and original trip.

About Elizabeth Little

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Elizabeth Little is the author of Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic. A Harvard graduate with a degree in Social Studies, she has formal training in Ancient Greek, Classical Chinese, Standard Mandarin, French, and Italian. She is currently a freelance writer and editor and lives in Los Angeles. Her website is
Published February 28, 2012 by Bloomsbury USA. 320 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Travel. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Trip of the Tongue

Publishers Weekly

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As much a travelogue as a linguistic field log, Little (Biting the Wax Tadpole: Confessions of a Language Fanatic) regales readers with her two-year odyssey crisscrossing the United States exploring the relationship between language and the American experience.

Jan 16 2012 | Read Full Review of Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Cou...

Washington Independent Review of Books

A longtime language enthusiast, Little is eager to pass along interesting tidbits about the languages she encounters, and the reader is treated to non-technical introductions to linguistic topics like evidentiality (a feature of some languages that requires speakers to say how they learned what t...

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In Miami, Little notes an interesting juxtaposition of Haitian and Cuban immigrant communities with regard to language preservation and assimilation: “The more time I spent in Little Havana and Little Haiti, the more I began to think that the only minority languages or cultures that could survive...

Apr 26 2012 | Read Full Review of Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Cou...

Capsule reviews of ‘Trip of the Tongue,’ ‘Gods Without Men,’ and Multiplication is for White People’ - The Boston Globe Colours |

Mar 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Cou...

The Weekly Standard

The difference between American English and British English is considerable—at least as wide as the difference between an American and an English muffin.

Aug 27 2012 | Read Full Review of Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Cou...

Lonely Planet

The capsule summaries of each language’s quirks aren’t always light reading either: while Little makes a point of trying to explain the worst intrusions of linguistic jargon, words like ‘morphosyntactic alignment’ crop up a little too regularly and glossing ‘preterit’ as ‘the past perfective’ set...

Apr 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Cou...

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