A unique collection of original essays by 21 of the world's leading linguists. The topics discussed focus on some of the most popular myths about language: The Media Are Ruining English; Children Can't Speak or Write Properly Anymore; America is Ruining the English Language. The tone is lively and entertaining throughout and there are cartoons from Doonesbury andThe Wizard of Id to illustrate some of the points. The book should have a wide readership not only amongst students who want to read leading linguists writing about popular misconceptions but also amongst the large number of people who enjoy reading about language in general.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.47(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Peter Trudgill and Laurie Bauer are both respected linguists. Trudgill has written many books for Penguin (including Sociolinguistics which has sold 130,000 copies since it was first published in 1974). Other contributors include Jean Aitchison (Professor of Language at Oxford), Lars Gunnar-Andersson (co-author of Bad Language with Trudgill) and Janet Holmes (Women, Men and Politeness, 1995, Longman). Peter Trudgill lives in Lausanne (and sometimes Norwich.) Laurie Bauer lives in New Zealand.
Table of Contents
A Note on the Contributors
Myth 1: The Meanings of Words Should Not be Allowed to Vary or Change: Peter Trudgill
Myth 2: Some Languages Are Just Not Good Enough: Ray Harlow
Myth 3: The Media Are Ruining English: Jean Aitchison
Myth 4: French is a Logical Language: Anthony Lodge
Myth 5: English Spelling is Kattastroffik: Edward Carney
Myth 6: Women Talk Too Much: Janet Holmes
Myth 7: Some Languages Are Harder than Others: Lars-Gunnar Andersson
Myth 8: Children Can't Speak or Write Properly Any More: James Milroy
Myth 9: In the Appalachians They Speak like Shakespeare: Michael Montgomery
Myth 10: Some Languages Have No Grammar: Winifred Bauer
Myth 11: Italian is Beautiful, German is Ugly: Howard Giles and Nancy Niedzielski
Myth 12: Bad Grammar is Slovenly: Leslie Milroy
Myth 13: Black Children are Verbally Deprived: Walt Wolfram
Myth 14: Double Negatives Are Illogical: Jenny Cheshire
Myth 15: TV Makes People Sound the Same: J. K. Chambers
Myth 16: You Shouldn't Say "It Is Me" because "Me" is Accusative: Laurie Bauer
Myth 17: They Speak Really Bad English Down South and in New York City: Dennis R. Preston
Myth 18: Some Languages Are Spoken More Quickly than Others: Peter Roach
Myth 19: Aborigines Speak a Primitive Lanugage: Nicholas Evans
Myth 20: Everyone Has an Accent Except Me: John H. Esling
Myth 21: America is Ruining the English Language: John Algeo
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It is some time ago, I read this book, but I remember it as a book, that will both entertain the linguist and the "ordinary man". Something as rare as an peek into an academic discipline which is both scientific correct, entertaining and easily read.
A great little book doing away with misconceptions most people have about language. Since it's a collection of essays, there is variation in style and quality, but overall it's very good. The book could have done with tighter editing, however.
This book has a good heart, and a few really solid essays--Dennis Preston (funny guy, incidentally) on prestige ranking of American accents and JK Chambers on TV's non-effect on language change (the reason I bought it originally, and while a little offended that a certain nameless someone referred me to the shibboleths book to prove the point, I am also convinced). Some of the others are definitely kindergarten, and I don't mean for language scholars, but surely even the gen-pub doesn't needto be told that some languages aren't intrinsically "harder" or "more expressive" or "faster" or "more primitive" than others, and that language change isn't language decline? Then I think about how quickly I can come up with five people who have said just the opposite on one of these matters in the last six weeks, and how stubborn they were, and I'm like "oh yeah." So there is definitely a place for this book, even if I suspect most of the prescriptivists and cavilers will require more convincing than it provides. And it's a quick read.
Mildly informative and mildly entertaining book about some widely held language myths. Overall it takes aim at the premise that there are permanent rules for a language (the prescriptive approach) but this isn't exactly new news. Language mavens, however, will enjoy it.
Each chapter is an essay which examines a common language myth. (E.g.: Appalachian English is Shakespeare's English, some languages are more logical than others, words shouldn't change meaning, etc.) An excellent resource for anyone who wants to get rid of their own language misconceptions or learn to defend against the miconceptions of others.
Contrary to the back cover, I don't imagine this book would be a very valuable source for the "language professional," but for introductory purposes and the "lay person," it is very valuable. It's capable of giving non-professionals a whole new perspective on language, particularly a sociolinguisitic one. As one would hope from a book written by linguists, it is well written. The book's short length is a plus, not because we want to be done with it, but because it avoids bogging down a reader who's just trying to get a basic understanding of the concepts.