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Babel No More,

I received Babel No More last Thursday, and finished it today. It was a delightful and insightful read. I enjoyed Michael Erard's style, his questions and description of his quest for polyglots of all ages make up for a trepidant turning of pages. Dead or alive, he was on a mission to find the polyglots of the world, those individuals that know and learn languages in extraordinary numbers and speed, and get to the bottom of how and why they do what they do.

The chapters devoted to neuroscience, always elicit a smile on me. His conclusions based on this type of reaseach could have been drawn without this type of research. Analyzing a brain physically, no matter how sophisticated the machines, needs theories and hypothesis that cannot at the same time be fully validated by looking at the brain. The answers and even the questions, superceed that mere observation. Nature or nurture is a forever explored dilema that no neuroscience or any science will ever settle forever. We will always ask the question, it is a philosophical question that can be illuminated by science but never reduced to it. The progress resides in the different attempts to answer it, not into the quimera of coming to a final answer. This scientific part has its limits and assumptions that many of us don't hold true.

You will laugh like never before when he tells you about his Russian lessons. You will travel to India with with, to Italy, to Brusels, and other places. He will inform and entertain you. He is as passionate about those who learn languages by the dozen, as polyglots are about languages themselves. And his insight and anecdotes helped me understand why I learn languages, gave me wonderful tips or the explanation about why certain things seem to work well when one learns a language, and made me ponder how to approach the learning of Italian that I have always wanted to pursue and never until now done seriously. And to study seriously does not mean at all boring. As he says, polyglots find the mundane tasks and discipline that language acquisition requires, much fun, highly enjoyable. I agree. Learning languages is fun, and very poetic.

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