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"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

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What is English? And Why Should We Care?

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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.

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Summary Details

Query:   Linguistics Bedtime Reading lives!
Author:  Katie Haegele
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   General Linguistics

Summary:   More Linguistics Bedtime Reading: A Summary

This summer I posted a query to the LINGUIST List (Linguist 14.2014),
asking for recommendations of language books for non-academics that I
could discuss in the book column I write for a weekly newspaper. I was
delighted but not surprised by the generous response to my query. I
studied linguistics as an undergrad at UPenn and it was a wonderful
experience -- because of the scholarship, of course, but also because
of the people I had the pleasure to study with. Linguists rock!

Because of space constraints in my paper, I chose just one relatively
new title to focus on and made mentions of a few others, but the
LINGUIST suggestions were so wonderful that I plan to do a follow-up
language column in the future.

Here's a link to my story:


Here's the list of recommendations I received:

Edith Moravcsik's original list of Bedtime readings in linguistics,

The Language Instinct, Steven Pinker

Patterns in the Mind, Ray Jackendoff

Spoken Soul, John R. Rickford and Russell J. Rickford
(African American speech)

The Atoms of Language, Mark Baker
(universal grammar and understanding syntactic parameters)

Language Matters: A Guide to Everyday Questions about Language, Donna
Jo Napoli

Language Myths, ed. Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill
(common misconceptions the public holds about language)

Words and Rules, Steven Pinker
(on the acquisition and theoretical aspects of regular and irregular

The Power of Babel, John McWhorter
(on language evolution, pidgins, creoles, etc.

Word on the Street, John McWhorter

Words in the Mind, Jean Aitchison
(how we learn and store words, what slips of the tongue reveal, etc.)

Language in Danger, Andrew Dalby
(on the impending loss of thousands of languages in the next 100 years)

Talking from 9 to 5, Deborah Tannen

I only say this because I love you, Deborah Tannen

Words on Words, David Crystal
(a wonderful set of quotes on all aspects of language, well indexed)

Spoken here: Travels among threatened languages, Abley, M.
(New York, NY: Houghton, Mifflin)

The professor and the madman: A tale of murder, insanity, and the
making of the Oxford English dictionary. Simon Winchester (1998, New
York, NY: HarperPerennial)

Double Negative, The Full Catastrophe, and The Error of Our Ways,
David Carkeet (novels starring a brilliant but bumbling linguist,
Jeremy Cook, who solves murders and saves a marriage, then languishes
on the fringes of the academic world)

The Mother Tongue, Bill Bryson

Language through the looking-glass: Marina Yaguello (Oxford
Univ. Press, 1998)

The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, David Crystal

An Introduction to Language 6th edition, Victoria Fromkin and Robert

Language: The Basics. Second edition, Trask, R.L. (1999, London and
New York: Routledge)

Language, Bananas and Bonobos, Neil Smith

The Language Imperative, Suzette Haden Elgin (Perseus, 2000)

You just don't understand: Women and men in conversation, Tannen, D
(2001, New York: Quill)

The Articulate Mammal, Jean Aitchison
(evolutionary adaptations in human anatomy favoring speech)

In Search of the Indo-Europeans, J.P. Mallory
(accessible, yet rational discussions of Indo-European archaeology and
linguistic reconstruction)

Lingua ex Machina, William H. Calvin and Derek Bickerton (2000)

Reconciling Darwin and Chomsky with the Human Mind (The MIT Press,

The Language Organ, Stephen R. Anderson and David W. Lightfoot (2002)

Linguistics as Cognitive Physiology ( University Press, Cambridge)

Chomsky: Ideas and Ideals, Neil Smith (1999, Cambridge University
Press, Cambridge)

The Ascent of Babel, Gerry T. Altmann (1997, Oxford University Press,
paperback edition 1998)

The Language Files, eds. Jannedy, Poletto and Weldon, prepared by the
Department of Linguistics of Ohio State University

Language Myths, eds. Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill (Penguin Press)

LL Issue: 14.2328
Date Posted: 03-Sep-2003
Original Query: Read original query


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