I loved this book. I've read several books on linguistics; but this has to be the best of the lot. It's so fun to read that I didn't want to put it down. (I even found myself laughing out loud several times while reading it.) In addition to being fun to read, it's very informative. I took a couple of linguistics courses in college, have read a number of books on the subject, and have studied the rudiments of several languages; but I think I've learned more about language from this book than I learned in all of my previous studies. If you're a student of linguistics, foreign languages, or English grammar (or even if you have only a passing interest in these subjects), you've got to read this book.
The purpose of the book is to explain how and why language changes over time: How did we get from simple "me Tarzan" grunts to the complex linguistic structures of languages like Latin? Why is the English spoken today so different from the English spoken only a few centuries ago? How are the various languages of the world related to each other -- and how do we account for the similarities and differences between them? In order to answer these questions, the book takes us on a fascinating (and fun) tour of language; delving into the often mysterious world of grammar, usage, and phonetics; shedding some much-needed light on everything from the multiple declensions of Latin, to the 3-consonant root system of the Semitic languages, to the seemingly bizarre discrepancy between French spelling and pronunciation, to the importance of word order, to why a "father" is actually a "pater", and how a "pod" became a "foot". If you're into language, you won't be disappointed with this book. It's very insightful.