Four Words For Friend: Why Using More Than One Language Matters Now More Than Ever
By Marek Kohn
Published by Yale University Press
Publication date: April 2019
24 April, Ognisko Polskie: Marek Kohn in conversation with Maya Jaggi
In a world that has English as its global language and rapidly advancing translation technology, it’s easy to assume that the need to use more than one language will diminish—but Marek Kohn argues that plural language use is more important than ever. In a divided world, it helps us to understand ourselves and others better, to live together better, and to make the most of our various cultures.
Kohn, whom the Guardian has called “one of the best science writers we have,” brings together perspectives from psychology, evolutionary thought, politics, literature, and everyday experience. He explores how people acquire languages; how they lose them; how they can regain them; how different languages may affect people’s perceptions, their senses of self, and their relationships with each other; and how to resolve the fundamental contradiction of languages, that they exist as much to prevent communication as to make it happen.
Marek Kohn is the author of eight books, whose subjects include race and science, the evolution of the mind, the lives of leading evolutionary thinkers, trust, and the impact of climate change on the British Isles. He has also written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian, Observer, Financial Times, Independent and New Scientist. As well as exploring the implications of scientific thinking for society he is particularly concerned with questions about diversity and identity. These concerns are rooted in his heritage as the son of a Polish father and a British mother. In his new book he draws heavily on his experience of losing his first language, Polish, and on his efforts to recover it.