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Language Change: Progress or Decay? (Cambridge Approaches to Linguistics) Hardcover – 4 Jan 2001
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'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
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.
Top customer reviews
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.
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.
'[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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