Listening recommendation: The Story of Human Language

A friend asked for Audible/Podcast recommendations.

The most influential and enjoyable Audible listen I’ve had over the years has been John McWhorter’s introductory linguistics course in The Great Courses series, “The Story of Human Language.

Language is basically our operating system, and this course explains how it works. I wish I could go back and tell my fourth grade self what was being gained when forced to memorize the non-obvious spelling of the English language.
 
McWhorter also has a podcast I love, Lexicon Valley, where he combines his linguistic insights with snippets of Broadway musicals. They all make the same basic point that language changes, and they explain how, but I recommend starting with the 18 hour course. (He also has book if you’d rather read than listen.)
 
Understanding how the each language is a constantly mutating human construct with permeable, changing, indistinct boundaries has had a profound impact on how I think about other cultural phenomena, most notably Judaism.

The Elephant in the Sukkah

Yes, someone has finally made a children’s book out of that fabulous mishnah in Tractate Sukkah. About time! It looks gorgeous and I can’t wait to read it.

“Henry, once a happy circus elephant, feels lonely and sad at the farm for old elephants, where nobody wants to hear him sing. One evening, he follows the sound of music and singing to the Broner family’s sukkah. At last, a place where he might sing. But Henry cannot fit inside the sukkah! Ori knows it’s a mitzvah to invite guests, and he gets a big idea about how to include Henry in the Sukkot fun.”

See it on Amazon