Book suggestions

Mark P. Line mark at
Thu Dec 23 16:24:01 UTC 2010

I guess it comes with the territory when you're teaching in an idiocracy.

But I guess it might be enough to push the boulder just a little ways
uphill and have it stay there for a while.

-- Mark

Mark P. Line

Tom Givon wrote:
> Well, it sounds like a most useful book, practically admirable. But
> would you still call your course "Intro to Linguistics for non-majors?"
> If so, perhaps you may wish to ask yourself this simple-minded question:
> After my students have finished reading this book (with my savvy helping
> hand embellishing, explaining, contextualizing all  the way),  what do
> they know now about Linguistics?  Linguistics as the field  dedicated to
> the study of human communication? Linguistics as the field charged with
> investigating language change or language acquisition?  About its core
> preoccupation and intellectual history? About its main
> inter-disciplinary connections--philosophy, cognitive neuro-science,
> developmental psychology, anthropology, evolutionary biology, computer
> science? My answer, I am afraid,, would be disgustingly predictable. I
> wonder what your answer would be, Johanna?
> Cheers,  TG
> ============
> On 12/22/2010 1:06 PM, Johanna Rubba wrote:
>> Thanks to the many people who responded to my request!!
>> I think I may have found my book! Or, at least, a book that can be
>> used alongside more-structure-oriented books. It's called _Language in
>> the USA_, edited by Ed Finegan and John Rickford. It's relatively new
>> (2004, Cambridge U Press, ISBN 0 521 77747 X ppbk., nearly 500 pp.),
>> and contains dynamite material for students new to the serious study
>> of language. It's mostly sociolinguistics, and has articles on topics
>> that are bound to be of interest to students in one way or another.
>> Here is a sample from the Table of Contents:
>> American English: its origins and history, Richard W. Bailey (wow!)
>> Social varieties of American English, Walt Wolfram (wow again!)
>> Multilingualism and non-English mother tongues [in the USA], Joshua
>> Fishman (okay, I'll stop saying 'wow' now)
>> Native American languages, Akira Y. Yamamoto and Ofelia Zepeda
>> Language ideology and language prejudice, Rosina Lipp-Green
>> Language planning, language policy, and the English-only movement,
>> Terrence G. Wiley
>> Adolescent language, Penelope Eckert
>> Hip Hop Nation Language, H. Samy Alim
>> Linguistic identity and community in American literature, James Peterson
>> The language of cyberspace, Denise E. Murray
>> I have scanned or read parts of several of the chapters, and they look
>> great. My only worry is that the level of the writing may be too
>> demanding for sophomores, but I figure that even freshman are reading
>> demanding prose in their composition books. Also, one can always
>> prepare students for difficult concepts or terminology ahead of time.
>> The book is terrific also for engaging students in critical thinking
>> about American culture and how language is treated here.
>> Of course, one of the usual goals in intro ling is to expose students
>> to a variety of the world's languages to see how they are alike and
>> how they differ. This is not lost in this book, as there are sketches
>> of Native American languages, a chapter on ASL, and one on AAE. Also,
>> as I noted above, I would use this book alongside other texts with a
>> wider orientation.
>> In fact, I find this book a godsend (pardon my manic enthusiasm) in
>> another way: I've been wanting for years to propose intro ling as a
>> gen ed course under our diversity rubric. This rubric limits the
>> content to marginalized groups in the USA, and this book covers 'em
>> all -- Native Americans, immigrants, African Americans, native
>> Spanish-speakers of the Southwest, the Deaf, and there's also a
>> chapter on language and gender. Yiddish, PA German, and similar
>> language situations are discussed. So, it's an all-around linguistic
>> profile of the USA, from a sound linguistic perspective (I think
>> students will be taken aback by Fishman's chapter, which unabashedly
>> assumes that the loss of immigrant and indigenous languages in the US
>> is a tragedy).
>> If you're not already familiar with the book, and teach courses to
>> which it sounds relevant, I strongly recommend that you look at it. I
>> would love to have others' opinions on the book, too, especially, of
>> course, if they have used it in teaching.
>> Here is a list of other titles that were recommended by folks who
>> responded to my question:
>> Language myths, Laurie Bauer & Peter Trudgill, eds. 1999. Plural
>> Publishing
>> How languages work, Carol Genetti, prospective 2011, Cambridge U
>> Psycholinguistics: Introduction and Applications, Lise Menn, PhD.
>> Plural Publishing 2010
>> Linguistics: An introduction,William McGregor
>> Introducing Language in Use, by Bloomer, Griffiths, and Merrison
>> (British English examples)
>> Aspects of Language and Language: The Loaded Weapon -- Dwight Bolinger
>> Yule, George. The Study of Language. Cambridge University Press
>> Relevant Linguistics, Paul W. Justice  (I've looked at this and found
>> it wanting)
>> Mark Rosenfelder's "The Language Construction Kit" (Yonagu Books,
>> 2010) -- according to Victor Golla, who submitted the suggestion, it's
>> "disguised as a primer for nerds who want to construct their own
>> Klingon or Elvish," but his students loved the idea of building their
>> own language!
>> The Ascent of Babel, Altman
>> Anthropological Linguistics, Bill Foley
>> Language: Its Structure and Use (Edward Finegan) (I use this for my
>> grad class)
>> Contributors:
>> Engin Arik, Rosario Caballero, Richard Cameron, Mary Clinton, Seana
>> Coulson, Carol Genetti, Spike Gildea, Tom Givón, Victor Golla, Angus
>> Grieve-Smith, George Lakoff, José-Luis Mendívil, James J. Mischler,
>> Mark P. Line, Lise Menn, Charles C. Rice, Wendy Smith, Phil Young
>> Peace to all during these holidays and always!
>> Dr. Johanna Rubba, Professor, Linguistics
>> Linguistics Minor Advisor
>> English Department
>> California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
>> E-mail: jrubba at
>> Tel.: 805.756.2184
>> Dept. Ofc. Tel.: 805.756.2596
>> Dept. Fax: 805.756.6374
>> URL:

-- Mark

Mark P. Line
Bartlesville, OK

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