Most people modify their ways of speaking, writing, texting, and e-mailing, and so on, according to the people with whom they are communicating. This fascinating book asks why we 'accommodate' to others in this way, and explores the various social consequences arising from it.
EDITORS: Patrick Griffiths, Andrew John Merrison and Aileen Bloomer TITLE: Language in Use SUBTITLE: A Reader PUBLISHER: Routledge (Taylor and Francis Group) YEAR: 2010
Ingrid Mosquera Gende, Bettatur University College of Tourism, Tarragona, Spain
SUMMARY ''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 knowledge.
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.
EVALUATION 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.
REFERENCES 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
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.