LINGUIST List 22.2893|
Thu Jul 14 2011
Review: General Linguistics: Griffiths et al. (2009)
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1. Ingrid Gende ,
Language in Use: A reader
Message 1: Language in Use: A reader
From: Ingrid Gende <imgendeyahoo.co.uk>
Subject: Language in Use: A reader
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Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/20/20-2903.html
EDITORS: Patrick Griffiths, Andrew John Merrison and Aileen Bloomer
TITLE: Language in Use
SUBTITLE: A Reader
PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis Group)
Ingrid Mosquera Gende, Bettatur University College of Tourism, Tarragona, Spain
''Language in Use: A Reader'' is presented as a companion to its predecessor
''Introducing Language in Use'' (Patrick Griffiths, Andrew John Merrison and
Aileen Bloomer 2005), although the editors stress that it can be read
independently of that work without a problem. The editors' aim is to provide a
'treasure trove of information about many areas of linguistics' (xx), presenting
important articles gathered together to serve as a practical aid to students,
teachers and researchers.
The ''Read me'' section deserves special consideration. It answers several
questions: ''Why did we produce a reader?'', ''Why these papers?'' and ''Why these
groupings?'', ending with the subsections ''How to use this book'' and ''As you
read''. Motivation is the key word in ''Why these papers'', with a paragraph such
as the following: 'We recognize that some of these readings are more difficult
than others. If you find a reading is hard going for you, do not think badly of
yourself or give up: keep going and take what you can from it. Then go back to
the same reading later, and see what more you can take from it. It IS worth
persevering with anything that is hard -- the sense of achievement when you get
to the end and have understood something (however much or little that might be)
is a wonderful feeling'. This exemplifies the editors' commendable,
student-centered philosophy. The explanation of the grouping or sections of the
book (answering the question ''Why these groupings?'') is also well formulated:
groups are completely interrelated and they provide charts with some of those
relationships (which they call Bookmaps). The editors propose several ways of
reading the book and explain some editorial aspects (xx-xxi).
After the ''Read me'' section and the Bookmaps, again with an obvious didactic
component, there are the ''Transcription conventions'' pages (xxvii-xxix), and a
Prologue, before the chapters themselves. Both the Prologue and the Epilogue
include quotes related with the beginning and the end, developing the idea that
this book is only part of the beginning, just a part of a bigger entity of
The ''Useful Websites'' section is a must nowadays and it contains key websites.
The book ends as it had begun, to and for students, using their language and
motivating them with the following words: 'Go explore and have fun!', having to
do with the Internet, but implying research beyond it.
Each page serves a didactic purpose; even the last one is a visual aid, giving
the International Phonetic Alphabet.
The book consists of four interrelated parts: Part 1. Language and Interaction;
Part 2. Language Systems; Part 3. Language and Society; Part 4. Language and
Mind. Each is divided in several chapters, exactly seven chapters each except
for the fourth part, which is divided in eight. Each chapter corresponds to an
article from a well-known linguist. Apart from that, every part includes its own
''Partmaps'', and an Introduction with references. The titles are straightforward
and simple, clear in meaning and pointing to their content. The editors could
have easily introduced terms such as sociolinguistics or psycholinguistics in
the titles themselves.
Within chapters there are three subsections added by the editors, as well as a
brief introduction at the beginning of the chapter and two charts at the end,
one entitled ''Now, Think, Do!'', and the other ''Further Reading''. The tone of
these subsections is informal and direct, and articles include footnotes with
references, explanations, comments, and so on.
The first part, Language and Interaction, is composed of seven articles: 1.1
Harvey Sacks ''On the Preferences for Agreement and Contiguity in Sequences in
Conversation''; 1.2 Bethan L. Davies ''Grice's Cooperative Principle: Meaning and
Rationality''; 1.3 Rebecca Barry and Andrew John Merrison ''Language-in-Use: A
Clarkian Perspective''; 1.4 Ronald R. Butters ''How Not to Strike it Rich:
Semantics, Pragmatics, and Semiotics of a Massachusetts Lottery Game Card''; 1.5
Sara Mills ''Impoliteness''; 1.6 Karen Grainger ''Reality Orientation in
Institutions for the Elderly: The Perspective from International
Sociolinguistics''; 1.7 Bethan Benwell and Elizabeth H. Stokoe ''University
Students Resisting Academic Identity''. The introduction is highly recommended,
including several interesting quotes, like this from Le Page and Tabouret-Keller
(1985: 188): 'We should constantly remind ourselves that languages do not do
things; people do things, languages are abstractions from what people do' (4),
corroborating the editors' own assertion: 'Language is used for doing things by
people inter-actively and IS THUS INHERENTLY CONCERNED WITH THE CONSTRUCTION OF
SOCIAL SELVES' (4). The end of this introduction is student-centered, with a
friendly tone, even using an emoticon (a smiley) to address the reader (7). The
principles and tone of this introduction extend throughout the book. Davies'
article could singled out both for its important content and its simplicity in
form. Sacks' and Barry and Merrison's articles also contain general information
whereas the last four deal with more specific aspects of language and society.
Language Systems, the second part, covers grammatical approaches to language,
broadly construed. This part comprises seven articles: 2.1 Ingo Plag
''Productivity and the Mental Lexicon''; 2.2 Arthur Hughes, Peter Trudgill and
Dominic Watt ''Regional Accent Variation''; 2.3 Michael A.K. Halliday ''Language in
Social Perspective''; 2.4 Rachel Sutton-Spence and Bencie Woll ''Constructing Sign
Sentences''; 2.5 James Milroy ''Giving a History to English''; 2.6 Andrew Goatly
''Metaphor and Relevance''; 2.7 Jill Hadfield and Charles Hadfield with Andhea
Gupta ''Travels with Auntie''. Word formation (2.1) or accents and variation
(chapters 2.2 and 2.7) are some of the aspects dealt with in this part, along
with the use of metaphors in everyday language (2.6) and British sign language
compared to English (2.4). Special attention must be given to Halliday's core
interpretation of the relation between form and meaning (2.3) and to Milroy's
personal view of A History of the English language (2.5).
The introduction to the third part, Language and Society, explores the idea of
society itself, including different social groups (180). In this same section
the didactic component emerges again, proposing to the readers several
'orientation tasks' (180) to carry out. Among those, the editors suggest looking
up the definitions of some key terms of this third part of the volume in a
general or linguistics dictionary: culture, class, community, dialect, accent,
creole, standard language, vernacular and language variety. Therefore the reader
will have some clear ideas before reading.
This part contains seven chapters: 3.1 Robert B. Le Page and Andrée
Tabouret-Keller ''Acts of Identity''; 3.2 Ellen Bialystok ''Bilingualism at School:
Effect on the Acquisition of Literacy''; 3.3 David Crystal ''An English Family of
Languages?''; 3.4 Sue Wright ''Language Education and Foreign Relations in
Vietnam''; 3.5 Graham H. Turner ''Why Protect Heritage Sign Languages?'' 3.6 Norman
Fairclough ''Language and Discourse'' 3.7 Tony McEnery ''How British Men and Women
Swear''. The first and third articles of this section are especially remarkable
due both to their authors, Le Page, Tabouret-Keller and Crystal, and to the
themes, constituting a framework, along with Bialystok's chapter, in which the
other four articles are developed. McEnery's contribution is preceded by an
editors' note about the technical vocabulary used, due to its subject (242),
once more taking the reader into consideration.
The fourth and last part, Language and Mind, contains eight chapters: 4.1
Loraine K. Obler and Kris Gjerlow ''How we know what we Know about Brain
Organization for Language''; 4.2 Charles Goodwin, Marjorie H. Goodwin and David
Olsher ''Producing Sense with Nonsense Syllables: Turn and Sequence in
Conversations with a Man with Severe Aphasia''; 4.3 Steven Pinker ''Language
Acquisition: how do they do it?''; 4.4 Michael Jeffrey Farrar ''Negative Evidence
and Grammatical Morpheme Acquisition''; 4.5 Holger Diessel ''Learning versus
Growth''; 4.6 Todd R. Haskell, Maryellen C. MacDonald and Mark S. Seidenberg
''Language Learning and Innateness: Some Implications of Compounds Research''; 4.7
Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen ''The Semiotic Landscape''; 4.8 Michael E.R.
Nicholls, Dara A. Searle and John L. Bradshaw ''Read My Lips: Asymmetries in the
Visual Expression and Perception of Speech Revealed through the McGurk Effect''.
This section on psycholinguistics is mainly concerned with child language
acquisition (chapters 3-7), approaching the subject from different perspectives,
as noted in the introduction (260). The first reading is a general overview of
brain functions in relation to language, whereas the second one focuses on the
phenomenon of aphasia. The last article concludes by reintroducing the subject
of the first reading, the theme of brain asymmetry.
The subject and author index at the end of the book is useful for specialists as
well as students.
The present book is brilliantly geared toward students, and its didactic
component is easily appreciated, not only in organization and presentation but
also in the vocabulary and language used, in both a practical and a motivational
sense. This is an important volume for students of linguistics. One possible
drawback could be the complexity of some articles but, since these are clearly
introduced and explained, in the end this should pose no problem. The editors
manage to present the articles very accessibly, due to regular motivational
notes, the tone and a systematic organization. Apart from this the presence of
an introduction, tasks and further reading in each of the chapters, is very
important in the achievement of such clarity and concision.
The first part of the book is well organized while the second seems a bit
chaotic and, apart from that, the content treated in that second part is too
broad to allow a detailed description of each aspect. However, one needs a
little more concentration to follow the complex and intelligent connections,
which the Partmaps help to achieve. The third section provides a useful order of
presentation, facilitating understanding. The last part of the book, apart from
the already mentioned organization, stands out because of its extra chapter in
which students can learn how to conduct an experiment, as pointed out in the
introduction to this fourth part (261).
This book is not merely a compilation. On the whole, it offers a great and much
needed didactic approach to linguistic studies. The selection of articles is
suitable for their function within the whole. The chapters offer more than
twenty nine articles: they offer further reading, further thinking, further
researching and further motivation to study linguistics.
Bloomer, A., Griffiths, P., and Merrison, A.J. (2005). Introducing Language in
Use: A Course Book. Abingdon: Routledge.
Le Page, R.B. and Tabouret-Keller, A. (1985). Acts of Identity: Creole-based
Approaches to Language and Ethnicity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
Ingrid Mosquera Gende is a teacher and online coordinator at the Bettatur
University College of Tourism, Tarragona as well as teacher at the
International University of La Rioja. She holds a Ph.D. in English
Philology, and has had several research stays in Germany, Canada and
Scotland, among others, supervised by specialists including Professor
Cairns Craig and Robert Crawford. She researches in Translation Studies,
Literature and Education. She has many publications and contributions in
the areas of Translation, Technical English, Scottish Literature, as well
as Education, Irish Literature and Spanish Literature.
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