on 9 December 2003
I read April McMahon's book as a follow-up to Jean Aitchison's (excellent) introduction to language change, "Language Change: Progress or Decay?". Dr McMahon's book covers some similar ground, including, for example, the same examples of sociolinguistic variation drawn from experiments in New York. But she also covers lots of other material and discusses a range of topics in sound, semantic and syntactic change, as well as issues such as pidgin languages, creoles, language contact, lexical borrowing, and langage death. This book is characterised by a much deeper analysis of the subject than Aitchison's, and I for one was out of my depth at some points. Yet the questions she raises are interesting, and I imagine this would be a particularly interesting and useful for linguistics students working with guidance from a teacher. Unfortunately it's not really suitable for the non-specialist general reader, I'd recommend Jean Aitchison's work instead.