“Lingo” by Gaston Dorren

LingoA light hearted look at the languages of Europe with interesting insights. There are 60 chapters each featuring a different language. Georgian doesn’t get a mention but neighbouring Armenian and Ossetian are covered.

Lingo 2
Languages covered

Ossetian gets a chapter because it allows for the author to claim that all ten branches of the Indo-European family of languages can be found in Europe: the 8 European branches plus the Indic branch represented by the Romani language and the Ossetian language representing the Iranian group. The word kefir, known in Russian since at least 1884, is possibly of Ossetian origin. Ossetian is descended from Alanic, the language of the Alans, medieval tribes emerging from the earlier Sarmatians.

Indoeuropean tree


Armenian is to Indo-European languages what the platypus is to mammals. In both cases, the first encounter is likely to raise eyebrows.

Each chapter includes a word from the featured language with no English equivalent, we are familiar with schadenfreude but German also has the word goennen which means being gladdened by someone else’s good fortune. The final chapter on English looks at the similarities between English and Chinese, with two reasons why both are terrible as a world language and one redeeming feature of each language.

Lingo 3
Contents list of first 13 chapters

The book begins with Lithuanian as it is the closest living language to PIE (the proto-Indo-European language). The order seems a bit haphazhard but fits into the points the author wants to make.

As for Georgian it has its own separate family (outside the book’s scope).

Georgian Language Family

The short chapters made it ideal reading for the smallest room.

My rating 4 out of 5


2 thoughts on ““Lingo” by Gaston Dorren

  1. Thank you, Jim! And as for learning Georgian, I warmly recommend Alex Rawlings’s ‘How To Speak Any Language Fluently – Fun, stimulating and effective methods to help anyone learn languages faster’. (https://goo.gl/EG5uVZ) It won’t teach you Georgian, but it will definitely help you to go about it more efficiently, or perhaps help you decide to give up on it! I found it a stimulating read when thinking about learning Vietnamese. (https://goo.gl/TPFn4v)

    Liked by 1 person

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