Title: Spontaneous Spoken Language
Subtitle: Syntax and Discourse
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Author: Jim Miller
Author: Regina Weinert
Paperback: ISBN: 0199561257 9780199561254 Pages: 480 Price: U.S. $ 49.95
Jim Miller and Regina Weinert investigate syntactic structure and the organization of discourse in spontaneous spoken language. Using data from English, German, and Russian, they develop a systematic analysis of spoken English and highlight properties that hold across languages.
The authors argue that the differences in syntax and the construction of discourse between spontaneous speech and written language bear on various areas of linguistic theory, apart from having obvious implications for syntactic analysis. In particular, they bear on typology, Chomskyan theories of first language acquisition, and the perennial problem of language in education. In current typological practice written and spontaneous spoken texts are often compared; the authors show convincingly that typological research should compare like with like. The consequences for Chomskyan, and indeed all theories of first language acquisition flow from the central fact that children first learn spoken langauge before they are taught written language.