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Language Matters provides a highly informative tour of the world of language, examining these and other vexing and controversial language-related questions. Throughout, Napoli and Lee-Schoenfeld encourage and lead the reader to use common-sense and everyday experience rather than preconceived notions or technical linguistic expertise. Both their questions and their conclusions are surprising, sometimes provocative, and always entertaining.
This thoroughly revised second edition updates the book with a new co-author, and includes new chapters on language and power, language extinction, and what it is linguists actually do. Language Matters is sure to engage both general readers and students of language and linguistics at any level.
Language: The Human Ability
1. How do we acquire language?
2. What is linguistics?
3. From one language to the next: Why is it hard to learn a second language? Why is translation so difficult?
4. Does language equal thought?
5. Are sign languages real languages?
6. Do animals have language?
7. Can computers learn language?
Part I I
Language in Society
8. Can one person's speech be better than another's?
9. Why do dialects and creoles differ from standard language?
10. Do men and women speak differently? And who cares?
11. English spelling is hard, and it makes learning to read hard. Should we do anything about it?
12. Should the United States adopt English as our official language and overhaul our educational system accordingly?
13. How does language wield power over us? Can it overpower us?
14. Does exposure to and use of offensive language harm children?
15. What do we lose when a language dies? And who cares?