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Review of A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics
Date: Mon, 19 May 2003 09:56:20 +0100 From: C A Ankerstein Subject: Crystal, D. (2002). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics
Crystal, D. (2002). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 5th Ed. Blackwell, paperback ISBN: 0-631-22664-8, 508pp.
Carrie Ankerstein, Department of Human Communication Sciences, University of Sheffield, England.
The scarcity of dictionaries specific to the field of linguistics lead David Crystal to write the first edition of the dictionary entitled "A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics" in 1980. That first book was a reaction to the "endless flow of terminology" pointed out by Dwight Bolinger in "Aspects of Language". Crystal claims that what was (and still is) needed was "a comprehensive lexicographical survey, on historical principles, of twentieth-century terminology in linguistics and phonetics" (p. vi of the 5th edition).
The book under review is a continuation of the first attempt at a comprehensive lexicographical survey. Terms have been added with the growth of linguistic fields and Crystal has responded to readers' comments on coverage and treatment of entries.
The dictionary was written for academics as well as non-academics who are interested in the field of linguistics, though special attention is paid to the needs of other language-related professions like language teaching, speech and language therapy, psychology, sociology, anthropology, literary criticism and philosophy.
Crystal covers terminology from the core of linguistics as well as these periphery fields which have spawned fields in their own right, e.g. psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, etc. Most of the book deals with terminology that is used in the study of linguistics, but also used in everyday usage, like "form", "sense" and "feature". These types of words may seem obvious to the reader of linguistics texts, but they carry different meanings or "senses" in linguistics than they do in common usage. Crystal has not included terms for which a typical dictionary definition will do, like "alphabet" and "aphorism". In total, there are some 5,000 terms grouped into over 3,000 entries.
For each entry, Crystal has tried to include some encyclopedic information, like historical context or the relationship of the entry to other entries. In some cases, diagrams are used for clarification, e.g. a small syntactic tree is included to the definition of X-bar^◊which would probably have been too abstract in words only. The information given is based on standard usage. He notes that there are some terms which are used idiosyncratically or that have controversial meanings or other particular problems. In the interest of space, Crystal does not go into specific detail, instead he gives a general description. In such cases, this will probably suffice for undergraduate students or non-academics interested in language. Those who are more familiar with the field will most likely be aware of the issues that surround certain terminology.
The entries are for the most part self-contained, so one need not look up other terms in order to understand the original term. There is extensive cross- referencing throughout. There is also some information about usage added with non-native speakers of English in mind.
A list of abbreviations, symbols and International Phonetic Alphabet (1993) chart are included.
For the most part, the dictionary is quite comprehensive, covering terms from the basic subfields in linguistics like syntax, semantics, pragmatics, phonology and phonetics. Terms from other areas like applied linguistics, psycholinguistics, etc. are included.
As there are very few similar resources available, and Crystal himself treats the dictionary as a work in progress so-to-speak, it is perhaps unfair to criticise the dictionary for terms that have been over-looked. For example, I was surprised to see that Grice or Gricean is not mentioned as an entry on its own as he has contributed a lot to current pragmatic theory, though his pragmatic principles are listed. The obvious names are listed like N. Chomsky, R. Jacobson and M.A.K. Halliday are included, though these are listed under their adjectival forms. The reader will, however, find that the most common and basic terminology are covered.
On the whole, Crystal's dictionary is an important resource for anyone working within the general area of linguistics. And besides, what other dictionary has a listing for the "Yo-ho-ho Theory"?
Bolinger, D.L. (1968). Aspects of Language. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World. Crystal, D. (1980). A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. London: Andre Deutsch.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Carrie Ankerstein is a PhD student in the Department of Human Communication Sciences at the University of Sheffield, England. She has a Master's degree in Applied Linguistics from the University of Cambridge, England and a Bachelor's degree in German Linguistics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA / University of Freiburg, Germany. She teaches practical tutorials on syntax and phonetics in the Departments of Human Communication Sciences and English Language and Linguistics to undergraduate and postgraduate students. Her research interests include psycholinguistics and first and second language acquisition. µ