From The Guardian:
Guy Deutscher is that rare beast, an academic who talks good sense about linguistics, his chosen field. In his new book, Through the Language Glass (Heinemann), he fearlessly contradicts the fashionable consensus, espoused by the likes of Steven Pinker, that language is wholly a product of nature, that it does not take colour and value from culture and society. Deutscher argues, in a playful and provocative way, that our mother tongue does indeed affect how we think and, just as important, how we perceive the world. An honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester, the 40-year-old linguist draws on a range of sources in the book to show language reflecting the society in which it is spoken. In the process, he explains why Russian water (a “she”) becomes a “he” once you have dipped a teabag into her, and why, in German, a young lady has no sex, though a turnip has.
What's your new book about in a nutshell?
It's about why the world can look different in other languages. I try to explain why in the race to ascribe to our genes all the fundamental aspects of language and thought, the immense power of culture and nurture has been grossly underestimated.