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Language Change: Progress or Decay? (2nd Edition) (Cambridge Approaches to Linguistics) Hardcover – 4 Jan 2001


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Hardcover, 4 Jan 2001
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3 edition (4 Jan. 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521791553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521791557
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,938,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'The book is a very good and readable introduction to the discipline of historical linguistics and covers a very large number of questions.' The Linguist

Book Description

This is a lucid and up-to-date overview of language change, considering both changes that occurred long ago and those currently in progress. This substantially revised third edition includes two new chapters on change of meaning and grammaticalization. New sections have also been added as well as over150 new references.

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First Sentence
Everything in this universe is perpetually in a state of change, a fact commented on by philosophers and poets through the ages. Read the first page
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By donald duck on 19 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is covers a lot and is clearly written in a way that is suitable for the student but also anybody who has an interest in language change.
It is split into four parts: -
Preliminaries - this talks about introductory things as well as how evidence is collected and how to chart the changes.
Transition - this extremely interesting chapter goes through ways in which languages change, using a variety of up-to-date examples of well-known studies and others. It looks at not only changes to phonology but also syntactic changes too.
Causation - this concentrates primarily at sociolinguistics and why languages change. It also looks at other reasons such as 'mechanical' and how languages 'repair' themselves.
Beginnings and endings - this looks at pidgins and Creoles as devices to study language beginnings and endings, using some examples, primarily Tok Pisin of Papua New Guinea. It concludes by saying language is not progressing or decaying.
I recommend this book for anybody studying language change, whatever the language(s) concerned may be.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mr Anonymous on 8 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback
Great book. Simply a fascinating read. Aitchison provides a thorough treatment of the subject, which has moral, ethnical, academic and even spiritual implications.

Her style, moreover, is entertaining and engaging. Although I do not claim to remember even the majority of the technical detail, it is a thoroughly worthwhile read - both for people with an interest in the subject and as ammunition against those who relentlessly insist on spilling their bile over ostensible incidences of moral decline owing to incremental modifications in language use.

A great read - highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a really great book. Fascinating and very clearly written, free of heavy academic language but still a fantastic introduction to many of the main issues in sociolinguistics - everything from Bill Labov's famous study of Martha's Vineyard to the causes of language death (or indeed, language murder). As a graduate student in sociolinguistics I genuinely found it hard to put down, despite being previously aware of much of the material covered. It also really improved my understanding of a lot of things I'd covered during coursework, more than can be said of most books in the field. Well worth it!
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By D. Izod on 29 May 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are teaching A level English Language, you need this book. The opening two chapters in particular will provide a much needed academic basis for your students' study.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Barrett 'Il Penseroso' on 21 Feb. 2012
Format: Paperback
Well, it ebbs and flows 'like the tide' is our answer - just fancy! - but we have to wait till page 253 for it. We start off in prime Kate Burridge territory - the Bishop of London's blithe contention that we avoid ending a sentence with a preposition in order to be 'more perspicuous [clearer]'(!), the hoary 'wiser than I/me' conundrum (p11), the changed usage of master/mistress (p17), but we are soon subject to diminishing returns, barrel-scraping and the spelling out of the bleeding obvious. Aitchison is fun on pidgin, of special interest to Australians due to their link with Papua New Guinea (though her suggestion of 'at least' seven possible derivations for the term is surely misleading; Burridge is also 'unprofessional' or over-enthusiastic on etymology) but really the only thing that stopped me in my tracks was reading that, despite their common ancestry, present-day Hindi has sixteen stop consonents and ten vowels to French's six stops and sixteen vowels!
'[I]t is always possible that language is developing in some mysterious fashion that linguists have not yet identified.' And it is also possible that Aitchison will be encouraged to bring out a new edition of this money-spinner. (Oh! she is doing so!) I think I'll stick with Caxton, whom she quotes on the last page: 'we englysshe men ben borne under the domynacyon of the mone, which is never stedfaste but ever waverynge'

The disintegrating Hokusai wave on the cover is deliciously apt, though the letters are superfluous and one could wish it (the cover) a less virulent shade of textbook turquoise. Just one niggle: if this IS a textbook, why is it so *@!# expensive?
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