LINGUIST List 11.2114

Mon Oct 2 2000

Disc: Book Reviews and Their Purpose

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <>


  1. j.mukherjee, Disc: New: Book Reviews and Their Purpose

Message 1: Disc: New: Book Reviews and Their Purpose

Date: Mon, 02 Oct 2000 20:20:12 +0200
From: j.mukherjee <>
Subject: Disc: New: Book Reviews and Their Purpose

Dear colleagues,

Ron Sheen has pointed out a very important function of book reviews, namely
to trigger off a substantial discussion about what the strong and the weak
points of the book under review are.

>Do we as members of a particular field of inquiry, have the right to expect
>responses from the authors of work subjected to critical review? I would
>have thought the answer to this would be a resounding affirmative.
>Clearly, the editors of this volume, and possibly some of the contributors
[i.e. in Doughty/Williams (1998)]
>do not agree

I absolutely agree with Ron Sheen on the need for such responses. As the
Linguist List community knows, we are, for example, having a fruitful
discussion on native competence and second language learning at the moment
which has developed on the basis of Dalila Ayoun's review of Green. (By the
way, in this context it would be interesting to get a comment by the
reviewer on the current discussion). What Ron Sheen states concerning his
recent review and the lack of response from the editors and contributors is,
in fact, a disappointing observation.

On the other hand, as far as my review of Corpora Galore (11.1905) is
concerned, David Minugh as one of the contributors did not hesitate to
provide helpful explanations of some of his statements which had obviously
remained unclear in my text. So, there are contributors who regard science,
i.e. the business of reviewing books, as a genuine process (and not as a

Hopefully, there will be a larger degree of feedback from the authors of
books having been reviewed and/or other readers of the book/review,
especially in the light of the existence of networks such as Linguist List
which allow for author-reviewer-reader interactions. In my opinion, such
discussions should become the rule rather than the exception.

Joybrato Mukherjee
Department of English, University of Bonn
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