Multilingual Environments in the Great War is an eclectic collection of essays around language edited by Julian Walker and Christophe Declercq published by Bloomsbury in 2021.
The aim of the publication is to explore ‘the differing ways in which language has been used to make sense of the Great War’ and in this it succeeds. There is likely to be something of interest for most people with an interest in aspects of language and war. The editors and section introductions deftly pull together the diverse articles finding commonalities to link them together within themselves and with the present. In particular, the introduction which was written during the early months of 2020 draws parallels between coping with war and the Covid-10 outbreak.
A range of territories, languages and texts are discussed. Africa, Eastern Europe, Australia feature, Kiswahili, Portuguese, Esperanto and Romanian are some of the languages which feature while discussions on books cover guide or tourism books, language guides, and the more traditional analyses of novels with an interesting assessment of swearing in The Mint by TE Lawrence (aka AC Ross). Another fascinating contribution was that on ‘genocide discourse’ looking at the Armenian massacres of the war.
Reading through the book, I was struck with how it complements other books to which I have contributed – The Global First World War; Propaganda and Public Relations in Military Recruitment What these books demonstrate, is how much more there is to still discover about the Great War of 1914-1918 and its impact on us a hundred years later. Kudos to all the editors for their foresight.