"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more
To find some answers Tim Machan explores the language's present and past, and looks ahead to its futures among the one and a half billion people who speak it. His search is fascinating and important, for definitions of English have influenced education and law in many countries and helped shape the identities of those who live in them.
This volume provides a new perspective on the evolution of the special language of medicine, based on the electronic corpus of Early Modern English Medical Texts, containing over two million words of medical writing from 1500 to 1700.
EDITOR: Hoffmann, Ludger TITLE: Sprachwissenschaft [Linguistics - A reader] SUBTITLE: Ein Reader. SERIES TITLE: De Gruyter Studium PUBLISHER: De Gruyter Mouton YEAR: 2010
Petra-Kristin Bonitz, Department of German Linguistics, University of Göttingen (Germany)
This book is -- as the subtitle makes clear -- a “reader”. In ''Sprachwissenschaft'', Ludger Hoffmann presents the most classic approaches to linguistics through widely read linguistic texts (primarily in German) for various subfields of linguistics. As a result, this book reviews many important assumptions concerning language, gathered in one volume.
Each chapter begins with a well-written introduction that primarily explains and justifies the selection of texts. This brief introduction contains suggestions for further reading along with additional bibliographical references. Hoffmann guides the reader through the chapters with these instructions. As a result, the chapters and especially the texts are interconnected and form a coherent whole.
Classic texts -- for example from Humboldt, de Saussure, and Chomsky -- give an overview of general linguistic themes. The book is useful for university classes or individual study as well, in part because it provides exercises and introduces relevant linguistic background.
This is the third edition of the “reader”. The editor has kept the original outline but made some additions to stay abreast of recent advances in the field. In contrast to the last edition, Hoffmann (2000), the current one contains introductions to recent grammatical theories and there is more focus on language acquisition and interculturality.
Part A: Sprachtheorien (theories of language)
This part treats questions like ''What's language?'', ''How did linguistic research begin?'' and ''Is there a universal grammar?''. Different historical stages and theories of linguistics are briefly but critically discussed. The philosophers and authors of the excerpts are succinctly introduced along with their basic assumptions and fundamental works.
The texts are well chosen. The excerpt by Humboldt (1810-1811) gives arguments why the reader should learn about the structure of languages. Texts by Paul (1880/1920), de Saussure (1916), Bloomfield (1933/1935/2001), Bühler (1934), Wittgenstein (1958) and Morris (1938), provide a broad overview of theories of language representations (e.g. Course on General Linguistics, the Organon model) and basic questions about linguistics. Three contemporary texts from Chomsky (1988/1996), Tomasello (1999/2002) and Lakoff & Wehling (2008) present recent assumptions about language and its relevance for the social life.
Part B: Sprache und Handlung (language and action)
This chapter presents important theories of language and action. Basic terms of semantics and pragmatics are given and embedded into a full theory of language and action. Hoffmann follows the theory of pragmatics chronologically. Texts from Austin (1958), Searle (1969) and Grice (1975) cover the work of three classical pragmatists, while Ehlich (1998) presents a current definition and aspects of pragmatics, including empirical methods.
Part C: Diskurs und Konversation (discourse and conversation)
This section deals with discourse as communication in spoken language. Ehlich (1984) introduces the theory of speech act analysis, then a relatively new subfield. He explains terminology and gives suggestions for the methodological application of speech act analysis. Conversation analysis is the topic of Bergmann (1995), especially with regard to ethnomethodology: (i) the history of development gives a nice overview of the history of research; (ii) basic principles and theories concerning ethnomethodology, the relevance as well as utilization of which are briefly discussed; (iii) current principles in methodology are presented in a precise and practical manner.
The next articles deal with specific approaches to discourse analysis: Sacks' (1971) article is about telling stories in conversations (especially conversational organization), and Günthner (1993) presents conventions in intercultural communication based on the assumption that the use and interpretation of contextualization are formed by socio-cultural conventions. Rehbein (1986) analyzes intercultural misunderstandings in doctor-patient-communications that appear to be due to bilateral misinterpretations. Hoffmann (1996) gives an uncommented sample transcript (a dialogue from a trial). Redder (1994) gives a transliterated example of an everyday conversation.
Part D: Laute, Töne, Schriftzeichen (sounds, characters)
The brief introduction overviews major features of phonetics and phonology. The following articles are also introductions to the two components: (i) phonetics: Martinet (1960), Pompino-Marschall (1995/2003) and (ii) phonology: Tracy Alan Hall (2000), Trubetzkoy (1939). Eisenberg (1996) presents important aspects of the German writing system (e.g. capitalization). Jakobson (1959) discusses crosslinguistic variants of ''Mama'' and ''Papa'' -- which have not only linguistic but also potential anthropological and psychological importance. Labov (1968) demonstrates quantitatively how linguistic indicators can correlate with sociological characteristics of speakers. So the analysis of language development mechanisms can contribute to a general theory of social development.
Part E: Wortform und Wortstruktur (word form and word structure)
The general introduction and Bühler et al. (1970) cover key morphological terminology and lexical categories.
Bloomfield (1923/1935) characterizes grammatical forms and distinguishes three main classes: sentence types, constructions, and what he calls “substitutes” (essentially pronouns). Vennemann & Jacobs (1982) summarize briefly different theoretical approaches to morphology (e.g., process morphology, paradigmatic morphology). Sapir (1931) discusses the many formal means languages employ to express morphological distinctions and the relevance of studying them. Aitchison (1997) discusses the different ways of word formation in conjunction with the creative potential of human language. The history and development of the word class system used in the European grammatical tradition is presented in Robin (1966).
Part F: Grammatik von Satz und Äußerung (the grammar of sentence and utterance)
Part F gives brief introductions to different syntactic theories and models. Short exercises that could be helpful for students are given in the introduction to this chapter as well as in some of the articles. The development of syntactic descriptions of German is presented via classic views like those of Paul (1919), Behagel (1932), Hockett (1958) and Tesnière (1959). The brief excerpt of Chomsky's principles of phrase structure (1988/1996) introduces the main aspects of universal grammar. Klenk (2003) clearly presents key concepts of Generative Syntax, e.g. constituents and syntactic categories. Greenberg (1969) summarizes types and universals of basic word order, focusing on VSO, SVO and SOV and categorizing languages in that scheme.
This chapter has been updated with recent excerpts: Müller (2002) introduces optimality theory by comparing it with traffic rules. Hoffmann (2003) describes the theory of functional grammar using graphics to illustrate procedures and phenomena (e.g. coordination or complex structures). Goldberg (2003) briefly explains constructionist approaches to grammar, which “set out to account for all of our knowledge of language as patterns of form and function.'' (2003: 726). Tomasello (2006) argues for a description of first language acquisition with the help of construction grammar and other cognitive-functional approaches. He thus explains construction grammar as well as evidence for children's language acquisition through their use of linguistic constructions. Haspelmath (2002) discusses whether universal grammar exists, arguing and giving evidence for a child grammar based on the usage of their parents. He concludes that grammar is not inherent but learned, though there are crosslinguistic universal properties.
Part G: Bedeutung (meaning)
This section introduces basic terms and concepts of semantics. Lyons (1991) clearly introduces the basic terms of semantics and gives a brief but comprehensive review of semantic theories (reference theory, ideation theory, behavioral theory of meaning, structural semantics, truth conditional theory). Bierwisch (1969) introduces structural feature semantics using notations of family connections. Wunderlich (1974) presents the concept of sense relation between verbal expressions and Wunderlich (1980) gives an example of lexical field analysis, followed by exercises on lexical fields. Löbner (2003) explains prototype theory and family resemblance. An excerpt from Frege (1906) shows his assumptions about logic, thought, negation, conditionals and the distribution of sense and meaning. The subsequent excerpt from Tugendhat & Wolf (1983) provides a well-chosen follow-up to Frege’s article and deals with the theory of redundancy, truth and verification. Finally Frosch (1996) introduces Montague semantics and categorical grammar.
Part H: Supplemente (appendixes)
Part H contains quite different three sections: an overview of articulatory phonetics, place and manner of articulation, and an IPA table make up the first section. In the second, Klein (2001) reviews concepts and types of language acquisition. Finally, Heeschen (1985/2010) presents the Yale language as a member of a language family with many unexplored questions (especially the relationships among different dialects of this language).
This is a very well-written book that presents central important issues of linguistics with excerpts from the classic academic literature. This book is ideal for university classes in German linguistics. An instructor can present linguistic themes drawing on the classic theories and texts collected here.
The brief introductions are appropriate for the work with the chosen texts. But although they interconnect the texts within a chapter, it would have been preferable to make an attempt to connect the chapters to each other, for example in the form of questions or additional exercises after each chapter.
The excerpts included will be useful to readers in class or in independent reading. One possible drawback is that the excerpts from the original literature are commented on only briefly in the introduction. In the next edition, it would be advisable to include more extensive comments, so that also students with little preparation can interpret these excerpts, above all when the book is used outside a classroom setting.
Hoffmann, Ludger, ed. (2000): Sprachwissenschaft. Ein Reader. 2. verb. Auflage. Berlin/New York: de Gruyter.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Petra-Kristin Bonitz (http://www.uni-goettingen.de/de/132555.html) is
writing her dissertation in the field of German linguistics. She serves as
an academic assistant in the German department of the University of
Göttingen. Her interests of research are in psycholinguistics, linguistic
theory and descriptive grammar.