"In this book, Richard Kern explores how technology matters to language and the ways in which we use it. Kern reveals how material, social and individual resources interact in the design of textual meaning, and how that interaction plays out across contexts of communication, different situations of technological mediation, and different moments in time."
AUTHOR: Farmer, Ann K. and Demers, Richard A. TITLE: A Linguistics Workbook SUBTITLE: Companion to *Linguistics, Sixth Edition* PUBLISHER: The MIT Press YEAR: 2010
María Isabel Martínez Mira, Department of Modern and Foreign Languages, University of Mary Washington
This workbook is the companion to ''Linguistics'' (sixth edition) by Adrian Akmajian, Richard A. Demers, Anna K. Farmer and Robert M. Harnish (MIT Press, 2010). It is primarily aimed at students who might be taking an introductory or an intermediate course in linguistics, and therefore use this workbook as a supplement to practice the topics discussed in ''Linguistics: An introduction to language and communication.'' After students have been exposed to the study of language properties in the textbook, which mainly uses examples from English, with this workbook students have the opportunity to test-drive their linguistic knowledge and transfer it effectively to a variety of languages. The workbook is divided into 9 sections which mirror the chapter sequence of its companion textbook, i.e. the authors begin with the study of structural aspects, and continue with two chapters on more cognition-based fields of linguistics (i.e. pragmatics, psychology of language). After Chapter 9, the workbook contains several appendixes (e.g. a chart of phonological features, phrase structure rules for English, an index of languages), and a bibliography. With regards to the distribution of the linguistic content, most chapters contain an average of 9-10 exercises, though Chapter 6 has only 2 on language variation and Chapter 4, 27 on syntax.
Overall, this workbook is a very well-organized, easy-to-follow supplement to the original ''Linguistics'' textbook. The workbook itself provides useful and well-selected examples to support and complement the textbook content. Such examples are introduced in a pedagogically sound way, with clear descriptions of the linguistic feature(s) discussed in the activity, specific directions of what students need to do with that information; in these exercises, the goal and purpose of the activity is contextualized and clear to the student. Students are guided in their attempt to 'navigate' the exercise content with activities organized in a way designed to bring the student along (in most, the content of a section elaborates and expands on the issue discussed in the previous activity, for example). In order to complete these activities, students have to think critically and provide the right answer to the exercises for each chapter; for example, students are challenged with tasks such as coming up with their own description of a specific feature, or having to think inductively and write down the (sequence of) rules governing linguistic phenomena such as phonological change in a particular language. Not only does this contribute to completion of the activity, but it also provides a platform for students to develop critical and analytical skills that can be transferred to other academic/professional goals, thus enhancing learning across the disciplines.
Another strong point of this workbook is its integrative approach to the study of linguistics. An instance of this can be seen in the chapter on Pragmatics, where the authors provide an example from Finnish to study the pragmatic dimension of mood; in order to answer the questions, students need, among other things, to be familiar with phonological features of vowels, intonation patterns, and morphological features of interrogative pronouns, so they need to go back and forth and review/refresh the content practiced in previous chapters. In fact, with their questions and activities, the authors make sure that the students do not see the different linguistics fields as independent entities, but as areas that complement and support each other. Students have to integrate and rely on all sorts of linguistic knowledge to come up with the right answer to each activity, as the previous example on Finnish shows. As a result, the activities on each chapter give students the opportunity to practice the textbook content and see how the different linguistic phenomena work in context. Therefore, these activities promote a more 'hands-on' approach to the learning of linguistics, increase students' familiarity with theories and frameworks, and make students more aware of the fact that they can indeed ''do things with language.'' At the end of this process students realize that their efforts actually serve a purpose. As the authors make clear, this eventually contributes to the higher goal of helping students reflect on how human language is organized, what methodological tools linguistics provides to study such thing, and how all this contributes to the better knowledge and understanding of the human mind.
The quality, rigor, simplicity of style, scope and availability of the practice exercises in this workbook are plusses. With an approachable style that attracts both neophytes in the subject as well as more advanced students of linguistics, the authors do a great job providing meaningful sets of exercises that challenge students and make the purpose of their research interesting, stimulating, and rewarding. This is also the result of incorporating language examples drawn from different world languages. From examples on affixation processes from Russian on Chapter 1, a case of phonetic variation in Spanish on Chapter 2, discussing morphophonology with an example from Japanese on Chapter 3, or analyzing sentences that illustrate the declarative, interrogative, and imperative moods in Copala Trique on Chapter 8 (just to name a few), the authors provide students with opportunities to put their linguistic knowledge and analytical skills to work. However, one weak point that can be pointed out is the number of activities available for each section. Whereas most of them have a similar number of activities available to the students (around 10 activities per chapter for the Morphology, Phonetics, Phonology and Pragmatics sections), the number clearly increases in Chapter 4 on Syntax and noticeably decreases in the chapters on Language Variation, Language Change and Psychology of Language, especially the latter (only one exercise available on speech errors, as the ''summary'' above). This means that students are given less chances to use their linguistic knowledge in a practical and effective manner and, consequently, they have fewer chances to ''do'' linguistics, which is what the authors identify as their goal un the preface. It also makes it a little bit more difficult on the professor, since (s)he has to do more work to find the appropriate exercises to bring to class/assign to students on those particular chapters. Hopefully this is something that can be improved in future editions of the book, and therefore the sections with less exercises will contain useful opportunities for the students to be challenged and subsequently enlarge their knowledge on that particular field of linguistics. In spite of this drawback, the overall quality and relevance of the activities for each chapter cannot be questioned . Also of importance, the materials included in the 'Appendixes' section are useful tools to solve many of the questions throughout the chapters. Those lists and tables provide a good platform for understanding how language functions for both students and professors.
A last asset of the workbook is its functionality. Although a clear correlate of the ''Linguistics'' textbook (the fact that the workbook authors also participated in the textbook can explain this), the exercises displayed on every chapter can be used by professors who might be using a different textbook. The formatting and the way the different activities are presented make this a perfect companion to other linguistics textbooks that might be more focused on the theoretical content, thus giving the students less opportunities to experience how language works.
In conclusion, ''A linguistics workbook: Companion to Linguistics, sixth edition'' provides both beginning and intermediate linguistics students with useful tools and sufficient, meaningful practice so that they (1) understand the different processes explaining how different languages structure their linguistic reality differently, (2) describe those processes, (3) point out cross-linguistic similarities between languages, and (4) establish comparisons/differences with the students' own first language(s). Due to its functionality, this workbook is appealing to different types of students and can be used in basic as well as more advanced linguistics courses, always contributing to the linguistics classroom with reliable materials in terms of thoroughness, sound methodological approaches to the study of linguistics and easiness of explanations.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
María Isabel Martínez Mira is an Associate Professor of Spanish at the
Modern and Foreign Languages Department at the University of Mary
Washington in Fredericksburg, VA. She earned an M.A. in Hispanic
Linguistics/Ph.D. and a Second Language Acquisition and Teacher Education
certification from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her
teaching/research areas include English-Spanish bilingualism,
sociolinguistics/Spanish variation, teaching of Spanish for heritage
speakers, and languages in contact. Her research on Spanish has been
published in journals such as 'Spanish in Context,' 'Sociolinguistic
Studies' and 'Studies in Hispanic and Lusophone Linguistics.' She is
currently working on the relation between language, ethnicity and identity
within the US Hispanic community and conducting research on female
testaments from the city of Murcia (Spain) within a Critical Discourse