Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"
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AUTHOR: Cook, Guy TITLE: Applied Linguistics PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press YEAR: 2003
Zohreh Eslami-Rasekh, Texas A&M University
OVERVIEW This book is one of the most recent publications in a series, Oxford Introductions to Language Study, dedicated to publishing introductory books in linguistics. According to H. G. Widdowson, the editor of the series, the books in the series are intended to respond to the need for a more general introduction to language use. These books are intended to provide transitional texts which will facilitate people's understanding of complex linguistic ideas. The series is meant to provide an introduction to the field of linguistics for linguists, novice linguists and general public.
This book, as others in the series, is organized into four sections: Survey, Readings, References, and Glossary.
The Survey, the largest part in the text (81 pages), gives an overview of the main features of applied linguistics and provides a clear, easy to understand, overview of the majors issues in applied linguistics. Cook breaks the survey down into eight chapters. He deals with issues like the need for and scope of Applied Linguistics in chapter 1, views on 'correctness' in language description and use in chapter 2, language attitude and how languages are perceived by different people in chapter 3. Chapters 4 through 6 provide an overview of language teaching methods, communication, and context. Cook traces the history of language teaching from grammar translation to the communicative approach. He argues that changes in approaches to teaching are the result of changing perceptions of 'good' language use. He points out that communicative competence theory is the most powerful model in that it enables us to take into account context in analysis of language use. Chapter 7 gives an overview of literary discourse, rhetoric of persuasion, and critical discourse analysis. Chapter 8 covers the past, present and future directions of Applied Linguistics.
The Reading section (33 pages) is comprised of a selection of texts taken from relevant literature in the field of Applied Linguistics. The texts in this section provide readers and opportunity to explore further issues introduced in the survey and help readers familiarize themselves with the language of linguistic literature.
In the References section, Cook provides an annotated list of references related to the subjects addressed in the Survey. Relevant references are given for each of the eight chapters and they are accompanied by a short commentary explaining their relevance to the issues covered in each chapter.
The final section of the book is Glossary. It provides definitions of key terms used in the book and gives page number references of their use.
EVALUATION Guy Cook in this introductory book to applied linguistics presents a wide, yet general, overview to the field. The book has only one chapter on language teaching compared with other introductory textbooks in applied linguistics which have a heavy emphasis on issues related to language teaching. The book gives a general overview of the different contemporary issues in the field of applied linguistics, rather than placing detailed emphasis on certain dominant areas.
The reader is provided with a clear, general introduction to the field and gets a broad understanding of the field and the related contemporary issues in applied linguistics. The author's efforts to cover all the subfields within the field of applied linguistics within only 134 pages of a pocket size book limit his ability to provide an in depth coverage of the complex issues and notions in the field. However, the Reading section provides more detailed explanation of the main issues covered in the 8 chapters of the Survey section and the annotated References direct the interested reader to other pertinent sources.
The book is easy to read and understand. The practical emphasis rather than the theoretical orientation of the book makes it appealing to the novice linguist or general public. By using daily life examples, Cook stresses the importance of language in society. The explanations throughout the book are clear and do not require the reader to have a certain level of background linguistic knowledge.
Overall, in this book, Guy Cook presents a short and concise overview of the main concerns of applied linguistics today. Controversial areas of contemporary language use, including political and commercial persuasion, the growth of English, intercultural communication, issues of correctness and language attitudes and native speakers are covered. It can be used as a supplementary introductory reading for the field to assist understanding of more complex readings to the field
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Zohreh Eslami-Rasekh is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses in ESL/EFL methodology. Her research interests include cross-cultural pragmatics, interlanguage pragmatics, politeness and language use, teaching ESL/EFL, and second language teacher education.