40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
a perfect story-like introduction/ summary of linguistics,
By A Customer
This review is from: Introducing Linguistics (Paperback)
Like the rest of this series (and in fact a whole sub-genre of books), what first impacts about this book is the use of pictures. And fine pictures they are, aiming more for a photographic than a cartoony effect and all the better for it. Generally, though, they more break up and enliven than illustrate the text, with the 'faces of linguistics' with speech bubbles being used more than graphs/ charts/ maps etc. It is in fact the text that sets this book apart. It freely wheels through the history of linguistics before splitting off into the definition and origins of language, variation and sociolinguistics, semantics and pragmatics, language planning, speech disorders and neurolinguistics, and the purposes of language. When I say it wheels freely, I mean somehow it manages to fuse these into a single narrative that it is quite possible (and maybe preferable) to read through in one or two sittings. The amount of text and the simple style certainly make this possible.
Obviously in such a short book they can't cover everything equally, and if you are familiar with the 'Introducing......' range of books you will be unsurprised that they give the most coverage to the people and ideas that have the most relevance to philosophy. In fact the two figures who are given most prominence, Saussure and Chomsky, have books in the series dedicated to them. Generally, though, they deal with every figure/ school of thought in a balanced way.
The book doesn't contain a contents page or glossary, but it doesn't really need these due to the way it's written. What it does have is a very useful 'suggested reading' list, which actually tells you something about the books rather than just listing them.
I'd recommend this book to anyone with an interest in this subject. I have professional reasons for reading more, but I'm fairly sure I would have followed up their reading suggestions anyway. When I've done so, I very much intend to read this book again to provide a neat little summary of whatever I've read.