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How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction / Edition 2

How English Works: A Linguistic Introduction / Edition 2


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A major introductory language/linguistics textbook written specifically for English and Education majors, this book is an engaging introduction to the structure of English, general theories in linguistics, and important issues in sociolinguistics.

This accessible text provides more extensive coverage of issues of particular interest to English and Education majors. Tapping into our natural curiosity about language, it invites all students to connect academic linguistics to everyday use of the English language and to become active participants in the construction of linguistic knowledge.

The second edition provides updated examples of language change—including new slang and other word coinages, grammatical developments, and sound changes—as well as new research findings on American dialects, language acquisition, language evolution, eggcorns, English and the Internet, and much more.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780205605507
Publisher: Longman
Publication date: 07/22/2008
Series: MySearchLab Series for Literature Series
Edition description: Older Edition
Pages: 608
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Anne Curzan is Associate Professor of English at the University of Michigan, where she also holds an appointment in the Department of Linguistics and School of Education. In 2007, she received an Arthur F. Thurnau Professorship for outstanding contributions to undergraduate education. She is the author of Gender Shifts in the History of English (Cambridge UP, 2003) and co-author of First Day to Final Grade: A Graduate Student’s Guide to Teaching (U of Michigan P, 2006). She currently serves as co-editor of the Journal of English Linguistics.

Michael Adams teaches English language and literature at Indiana University, Bloomington. For fifteen years, he taught at Albright College, in Reading, Pennsylvania, where he also served as chair of the Department of English and associate academic dean; he has been a visiting professor at Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of Iceland. He is the author of Slayer Slang: A Buffy the Vampire Slayer Lexicon (Oxford UP, 2003) and Slang: The People’s Poetry (Oxford UP, 2009), as well as contributing editor to Word Histories and Mysteries: Abracadabra to Zeus (Houghton Mifflin, 2004). He was editor of Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America for several years; currently, he is editor of the quarterly journal American Speech.

Table of Contents

Detailed Contents

Inside Front Cover Consonant Phonemes of English, Vowel Phonemes of English, Phonetic Alphabet for American English

Inside Back Cover Brief Timeline for the History of the English Language

List of Symbols, Linguistic Conventions, and Common Abbreviations xviii

Preface to Instructors xxiii

Letter to Students xxix

Chapter 1 A Language like English 1

The Story of Aks 2

Language, Language Everywhere 4

The Power of Language 4

Name Calling 5

Judging by Ear 5

A Question to Discuss: What Makes Us Hear an Accent? 6

The System of Language 7

Arbitrariness and Systematicity 8

A Scholar to Know: Ferdinand de Saussure (1857–1913) 9

Creativity 10

Grammar 11

Linguistics 12

Human Language versus Animal Communication 13

Birds and Bees 14

Chimps and Bonobos 15

Distinctive Characteristics of Human Language 18

The Process of Language Change 20

Language Genealogies 20

A Question to Discuss: Do Languages Have Families? 23

Mechanics of Language Change 23

Progress or Decay? 24

Attitudes about Language Change 25

Special Focus: Evolution of Human Language 26

Summary 30

Suggested Reading 30

Exercises 31

Chapter 2 Language and Authority 35

Who Is in Control? 36

Language Academies 36

Language Mavens 37

A Question to Discuss: Does the SAT Know Good Grammar from Bad? 39

Defining Standard English 40

Descriptive versus Prescriptive Grammar Rules 42

Case Study One: Double Negatives 43

Case Study Two: Ain’t 43

Case Study Three: Who and Whom 44

The Status of Prescriptive Rules 45

Spoken versus Written Language 46

A Question to Discuss: Which Is More Permanent, the Written or Spoken Word? 46

Language and Society: Are We Losing Our Memories? 48

Dictionaries of English 48

The Earliest Dictionaries of English 48

The Beginnings of Modern Lexicography 49

Historical Lexicography 50

American Lexicography 51

A Question to Discuss: Should Dictionaries Ever Prescribe? 53

English Grammar, Usage, and Style 54

The Earliest Usage Books 54

Prescriptive versus Descriptive Tendencies in Grammars of English 54

Modern Approaches to English Usage 56

Special Focus: Corpus Linguistics 57

Origins of Corpus Linguistics 58

Corpus Linguistics in the Twenty-first Century 59

Summary 62

Suggested Reading 62

Exercises 63

Chapter 3 English Phonology 67

Phonetics and Phonology 68

The Anatomy of Speech 70

The International Phonetic Alphabet 72

English Consonants 73

Stops 74

Fricatives 75

Language Change at Work: Is /h/ Disappearing from English? 76

Affricates 73

A Question to Discuss: Does English Have Initial /Z/? 73

Language Change at Work: Who Drops Their g’s? 77

Nasals 77

Liquids and Glides 77

Syllabic Consonants 78

English Vowels 79

Front Vowels 79

Back Vowels 80

Central Vowels 80

Diphthongs 81

Language Change at Work: The cot/caught and pin/pen Mergers 81

Natural Classes 82

Phonemes and Allophones 82

Sample Allophones 84

Minimal Pairs 85

Phonological Rules 86

Assimilation 86

Deletion 87

Insertion 87

Metathesis 87

Language Change at Work: Is larynx Undergoing Metathesis? 88

Syllables and Phonotactic Constraints 88

Perception of Sound 89

Special Focus: History of English Spelling 92

Should English Spelling Be Reformed? 94

Summary 95

Suggested Reading 95

Exercises 96

Chapter 4 English Morphology 104

Morphology 105

Open and Closed Classes of Morphemes 106

A Question to Discuss: Exceptions to the Closedness of Closed Classes? 108

Bound and Free Morphemes 110

Language Change at Work: Bound Morphemes Becoming Free 110

Inflectional and Derivational Bound Morphemes 111

Inflectional Morphemes 111

Derivational Morphemes 112

Language Change at Work: The Origins of Inflectional -s 112

Affixes and Combining Forms 113

Morphology Trees 114

A Question to Discuss: What about Complex Words That Seem to Have Only One Morpheme? 116

Ways of Forming English Words 116

Combining 117

Shortening 118

A Question to Discuss: Is It Clipping or Backformation? 119

Language Change at Work: Alice in Wonderland and the Portmanteau 120

Blending 120

Shifting 120

Language Change at Work: Success Rates for New Words 121

Reanalysis, Eggcorns, and Folk Etymology 121

Reduplication 122

Frequency of Different Word-Formation Processes 123

Borrowing and the Multicultural Vocabulary of English 123

A Question to Discuss: What’s Wrong with amorality? 125

Special Focus: Slang and Creativity 126

Summary 128

Suggested Reading 129

Exercises 129

Chapter 5 English Syntax: The Grammar of Words 134

Syntax and Lexical Categories 135

Open-Class Lexical Categories 137

Nouns 137

Adjectives 139

Language Change at Work: Is It fish or fishes, oxen or oxes 140

A Question to Discuss: Am I Good or Well? 141

Verbs 142

A Question to Discuss: Did I Lie Down or Lay Down? 148

Adverbs 149

A Question to Discuss: If I Do Badly, Why Don’t I Run Fastly? 150

Closed-Class Lexical Categories 151

Prepositions 151

Conjunctions 152

A Question to Discuss: What Is the up in call up? 152

Pronouns 153

Complementizers 155

Language Change at Work: Himself, Hisself, Hisownself 155

Determiners 156

Auxiliary Verbs 157

Challenges to Categorization 159

The Suffix -ing 159

Noun Modifiers 160

Yes and No 160

A Question to Discuss: What Can Phonology Reveal about Modifying -ing Forms? 160

Special Focus: Descriptive Syntax and Prescriptive Rules 161

Hopefully 161

Split Infinitive 162

Sentence-Final Prepositions 162

Its/It’s 163

Singular Generic They 163

Summary 164

Suggested Reading 165

Exercises 165

Chapter 6 English Syntax: Phrases, Clauses, and Sentences 171

Generative Grammar 172

Universal Grammar 174

A Scholar to Know: Noam Chomsky (1928– ) 175

Constituents and Hierarchies 175

Constituent Hierarchies 176

Clauses and Sentences 176

Constituency Tests 177

Phrase Structure Rules 179

Form and Function 181

Clause Types 181

Basic Phrase Structure Trees 183

Complex Phrase Structure Trees 187

Adverbial Clauses 188

Relative Clauses 188

Language Change at Work: Which Is It, Which or That? 190

Complementizer Clauses 191

Reduced Subordinate Clauses 192

Infinitive Phrases 192

Gerund and Participial Phrases 193

Tense and Auxiliaries 194

A Question to Discuss: What Is the It in “It Is Raining”? 195

Transformations 195

Wh-Questions 196

Negation 196

Yes-No Questions 197

Tag Questions 198

Passive Constructions 198

A Question to Discuss: How Did This Passive Sentence Get Constructed? 199

Relative Pronoun Deletion 199

Phrasal Verb Particle Movement 200

Does Generative Grammar Succeed? 201

Special Focus: Syntax and Prescriptive Grammar 203

Sentence Fragments and Run-on Sentences 203

Colons, Semicolons, and Comma Splices 204

Dangling Participles 205

Summary 206

Suggested Reading 207

Exercises 207

Chapter 7 Semantics 214

Semantics 215

The Limits of Reference 217

The Role of Cognition 217

The Role of Linguistic Context 218

A Question to Discuss: How Do Function Words Mean? 218

The Role of Physical and Cultural Context 219

Language Change at Work: The Formation of Idioms 212

A Brief History of Theories of Reference 220

Deixis 220

Plato and Forms 221

Repairing Plato 221

From Reference to Discourse 222

From Reference to Translation 223

Componential Analysis 224

Lexical Fields 224

Hyponym to Homonym (and Other Nyms) 226

Hyponymy 226

Meronymy 227

Synonymy 228

Antonymy 228

Homonymy 229

A Question to Discuss: Does the Thesaurus Have a Bad Name? 230

Organization of the Mental Lexicon 230

Prototype Semantics 232

Lexical Prototype Semantics 232

Analogical Mapping 233

Conceptual Metaphor 233

The Intersection of Semantics, Syntax, and Discourse 234

Projection Rules 234

Thematic Roles 235

How Sentences Mean 236

Sentences and Context 236

Processes of Semantic Change 237

Generalization and Specialization 237

Metaphorical Extension 240

Euphemism and Dysphemism 240

Pejoration and Amelioration 241

Linguistic Relativity 242

Special Focus: Politically Correct Language 245

Summary 247

Suggested Reading 247

Exercises 248

Chapter 8 Spoken Discourse 251

Defining Discourse Analysis 252

Speech Act Theory: Accomplishing Things with Words 253

Scholars to Know: J. L. Austin (1911–1960) and John Searle (1932– ) 254

Components of Speech Acts 252

Direct and Indirect Speech Acts 256

Performative Speech Acts 257

Evaluating Speech Act Theory 259

The Cooperative Principle: Successfully Exchanging Information 260

Conversational Maxims 261

A Scholar to Know: Robin Tolmach Lakoff (1942-) 262

Conversational Implicature 262

A Question to Discuss: Entailment and Implicature 263

Relevance 264

Politeness and Face: Negotiating Relationships in Speaking 266

Positive and Negative Politeness and Face 266

Face-Threatening Acts 267

A Question: A Question to Discuss: How Do Compliments Work? 268

Discourse Markers: Signaling Discourse Organization and Authority 269

Function of Discourse Markers 269

Language Change at Work: fDiscourse Markers rom Beowulf to Dude 270

Types of Discourse Markers 270

Language Change at Work: Like, I Was Like, What Is Going On with the Word Like? 271

Conversation Analysis: Taking Turns and the Conversational Floor 272

Structure of Conversation 273

Turn-Taking 274

Turn-Taking Violations 275

Maintenance and Repair 276

Style Shifting: Negotiating Social Meaning 277

Indexical Meaning 277

Style and Creativity 278

Special Focus: Do Men and Women Speak Differently? 280

Early Language and Gender Research 281

Different Models for Gender Difference 282

Queer Sociolinguistics 283

Language and Identity 283

Summary 284

Suggested Reading 284

Exercises 285

Chapter 9 Stylistics 291

Stylistics 295

Systematicity and Choice 295

The World of Texts: Genres and Registers 296

Variation among Text Types 298

Which Comes First? 298

Textual Unity: Cohesion 300

Elements of Cohesion 300

Cohesion at Work 303

Telling Stories: The Structure of Narratives 303

The Components of a Narrative 305

Investigating Speakers and Perspective 307

Varieties of Perspective 308

Speech: Direct and Indirect 309

Investigating Actions 310

Types of Action 310

Action at Work 312

Investigating Word Choice 313

Diction 313

Metaphor 314

Modality 315

Language Variation at Work: Literary Forensics 316

Rhythm and Rhyme in Poetry 317

Poeticity and Its Axes 317

A Scholar to Know: Roman Jakobson (1896–1982) 318

Meter, Rhythm, and Scansion 319

Prosody and Verse Structure 320

Sound, Meaning, and Poetic Technique 321

A Question to Discuss: What Makes the Tongue Twist? 321

Language Change at Work: Hip Hop Rhymes 322

Special Focus: What Makes “Good Writing”? 323

Summary 324

Suggested Reading 325

Exercises 325

Chapter 10 Language Acquisition 339

Theories about Children’s Language Acquisition 330

Imitation versus Instinct 331

Noam Chomsky and Universal Grammar 332

Debates about Language “Hard Wiring” 333

Language and the Brain 333

Children Learning Sounds 335

Language Acquisition Tests 336

Acquisition of Phonemic Differences 337

Children Learning Words 338

Babbling and First Words 338

Language Acquisition at Work: Imitating Faces 340

Language Acquisition at Work: Deaf Children Learning ASL 342

Acquisition of Words and Word Meaning 334

A Question to Discuss: Why Do We Talk with Our Hands? 343

Aquistion of Words and Word Meaning 345

Children Learning Grammar 346

Patterns of Children’s Errors 346

Acquisition of Complex Grammatical Constructions 48

The Role of Parents in Language Acquisition 348

Features of Parentese 349

Role of Parentese 350

Language Acquisition in Special Circumstances 350

Pidgins and Creoles 350

Nicaraguan Sign Language 351

Critical Age Hypothesis 352

Critical Periods 353

A Case Study: Genie 353

Acquisition of Languages Later in Life 354

When Things Go Wrong 355

Broca’s Aphasia 355

Language Variation at Work: Verbal Slips 357

Wernicke’s Aphasia 358

Dyslexia 358

Special Focus: Children and Bilingualism 360

Children Learning Two Languages 360

Bilingual Education Programs 361

Summary 362

Suggested Reading 363

Exercises 363

Chapter 11 Language Variation 366

Dialect 367

Dialects versus Languages 369

Standard and Nonstandard Dialects 369

A Question to Discuss: Is American English a Dialect or a Language? 370

Dialectology 371

Variationist Sociolinguistics 373

Language Change at Work: Pop versus Soda 374

William Labov’s Research 376

Sociolinguistics versus Generative Grammar 376

A Scholar to Know: William Labov (1927– ) 377

Speech Communities and Communities of Practice 377

Variationist Sociolinguistic Methodologies 378

Sampling 378

Soliciting Language 379

Analyzing Results 380

Ethical Issues 382

A Question to Discuss: Should We Preserve Dialects? 383

Major Factors in Language Variation within Speech Communities 384

Age 384

Gender 384

Class 386

Race and Ethnicity 388

Social Networks 389

Effects of Language Contact 389

Dialect Contact 389

Language Contact 390

Pidgins and Creoles 390

Speaker Attitudes and Language Variation 392

A Question to Discuss: What Does “Linguistic Equality” Mean? 395

Summary 398

Suggested Reading 398

Exercises 399

Chapter 12 American Dialects 401

The Politics of American Dialects 402

Speakers Who Control Multiple Dialects 403

Judgments and Humor about Dialects 403

Dialect Diversity and National Unity 404

Language Change at Work: The Inconsistency of Language Attitudes 405

Regional Variation 406

A Sample Walk 406

Language Change at Work: Why Does Unless Mean 'in case' in Pennsylvania? 408

Defining Regions 410

The Emergence of Regional Dialects 410

Retention 411

Naturally Occurring Internal Language Change 411

Language Change at Work: Regional Food Terms 412

Language Contact 413

Coining 413

Language Change at Work: A Dragonfly by Any Other Name 414

Social Factors 414

The History of Regional Dialects in the United States 415

The Beginnings of American English 415

The Northern Dialect Region 416

The Southern Dialect Region 416

The Midland Dialect Region 417

The Western Dialect Region 418

Dialects within Dialect Regions 419

Two Case Studies of Regional Variation 421

Appalachian English 421

Language Change at Work: Jack, Will, and Jenny in the Swamp 424

California English 425

Social Variation 427

Slang and Jargon versus Dialects 427

Social Dialects 428

Two Case Studies of Social Variation 429

Chicano English 429

African American English 430

Special Focus: The Ebonics Controversy 434

A Scholar to Know: Geneva Smitherman (1940-) 437

Summary 438

Suggested Reading 438

Exercises 439

Chapter 13 History of English: Old to Early Modern English 443

Old English (449–1066): History of Its Speakers 444

When Did English Begin? 444

Which Germanic Dialect Is “Old English”? 445

Language Change at Work: How English Was Written Down 447

Where Do the Names English and England Originate? 448

Old English Lexicon 448

Latin Borrowing 449

Old Norse Borrowing 451

Native English Word Formation 451

Old English Grammar 452

The Origins of Modern English Noun Inflections 452

The Gender of Things 453

The Familiarity of Personal Pronouns 453

The Many Faces of Modifiers 454

The Origins of Some Modern English Irregular Verbs 455

Variation in Word Order 456

Middle English (1066–1476): History of Its Speakers 457

The Norman Conquest 457

A Scholar to Know: J. R. R. Tolkien the Philologist 458

The Renewal of English 458

The Emergence of a Standard 459

Middle English Dialects 460

The Middle English Lexicon 462

French Borrowing 462

Latin Borrowing 463

Other Borrowing 463

Word Formation Processes 464

Middle English Grammar 464

The Loss of Inflections and Its Effects 465

The Inflections That Survive 465

Early Modern English (1476–1776): History of Its Speakers 466

The Printing Press 466

Attitudes about English 467

The Study of English 469

A Question to Discuss: How Do We Preserve the Evidence of a Language? 470

Early Modern English Lexicon 471

Greek and Latin Borrowing 472

Romance Borrowing 472

Semantic Change in the Native Lexicon 472

Affixation 473

Early Modern English Grammar 474

Older Grammatical Retentions 474

Developments in Morphosyntax 474

Language Change at Work: The Invention of pea 475

The Fate of Final-e 475

Language Change at Work: The Great Vowel Shift 476

Looking Ahead 476

Suggested Reading 477

Exercises 478

Chapter 14 History of English: Modern and Future English 484

Modern English (1776–Present): Social Forces at Work 485

Prescription and the Standard Variety 485

The Media 486

Imperialism 488

Globalization 489

Language Change at Work: The Debated Origins of O.K. 489

Modern English: Language Change in Progress 490

Word Formation 491

Lexical Borrowing 492

Phonological Changes 492

Grammatical Changes 493

A Question to Discuss: “Hey, You Guys, Is This Grammaticalization?” 494

The Status of English in the United States 495

Language Variation at Work: The Myth of the “German Vote” in 1776 496

A Question to Discuss: Official State Languages 497

The Status of English around the World 498

The Meaning of a “Global Language” 501

English as a Global Language 494

World Englishes 503

The Future of English as a Global Language 505

What Happens after Modern English? 507

Language Change at Work: Retronymy and Reduplication 508

English and the Internet 509

Suggested Readings 513

Exercises 514

Glossary 517

Bibliography 543

Credits 557

Index 560

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