"Explaining Language Change"

Bill Croft w.croft at MAN.AC.UK
Fri Feb 23 17:24:26 UTC 2001

I would like to announce that my book "Explaining Language
Change" is finally available outside the UK---it is now listed as
available at a major Internet bookseller, listed at US$22
paperback (the UK price is 19.99 pounds).

I am sending this announcement because the publisher (Longman)
was bought up by Pearson, who terminated linguistics
publication, is not marketing their recent linguistics books, and
has not answered correspondence.

I have appended the jacket description of the book. My apologies
to those who receive multiple copies of this announcement.

Bill Croft

"Explaining Language Change"
William Croft, University of Manchester
ISBN 0-582-35677-6 (paperback), June 2000. Pp. xvi, 287.

Ever since the origins of both linguistics and evolutionary
biology in the 19th century, scholars have noted the similarity
between biological evolution and language change. Yet until
recently neither linguists nor biologists have developed a model
of evolution general enough to apply across the two fields. Even
in linguistics, the field is split between the historical
linguists who study change in language structure, and the
sociolinguists who study social variation in the speech

"Explaining language change" represents the first thoroughly
worked out framework for language evolution, building on the
pioneering ideas of Richard Dawkins and David Hull in biology
and philosophy of science. Its central thesis is that the locus
of language change is the utterance in social intercourse.
Linguistic innovations emerge from the remarkable complexity of
communication in social interaction. Once innovations occur,
they are propagated through the equally complex social
structures of the speech communities we participate in.

"Explaining language change" provides a framework for assessing
current theories of language change, and advances new ideas
about grammatical reanalysis, conventional and nonconventional
use of language, the structure of speech communities, language
mixing, and the notion of "progress" in language change.
"Explaining language change" reintegrates sociolinguistics and
historical linguistics, weaving together research on grammatical
change, pragmatics, social variation, language contact and
genetic linguistics.

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