Book suggestions?

Johanna Rubba jrubba at
Tue Apr 5 01:58:34 UTC 2011


Apologies to anyone who gets this twice. 

I routinely have my undergraduates in certain classes read linguistics-related books beyond the course text. My list of choices is getting seriously dated.

What I'm looking for are books that are intended for a general audience of *non-linguists*. We have no linguistics major at Cal Poly, and most of my students are taking a linguistics course because it is required. Most of my students are not as strong readers of linguistics books as students at R1 institutions. Pinker's Language Instinct would be too hard for most of my undergraduates, for instance. Here are a few of the titles I list, to give you an idea of level:

Schane, Sanford. 2006. Language and the Law. 
O'Grady, William. 2005. How Children Learn Language. 
Lakoff, George and Mark Turner. 1989. More Than Cool Reason: A Field Guide to Poetic Metaphor. 
Wardhaugh, Ronald. 1999. Proper English: Myths and misunderstandings about language. 
Tannen, Deborah. 1998. The argument culture: Stopping America's war of words.
Wolfram, Walt and Natalie Schilling-Estes. 1998. American English: Dialects and Variation.
Bailey, Richard. l991. Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language.
Hughes, Geoffrey. 1989.  Words in time: a social history of the English vocabulary. 

As you can see, the topic range is pretty wide open. I'm especially interested in a few *current* books on language and the Internet. Unless the book is timeless or a real classic, the date shouldn't be before about 2000 (though Internet books should be much more recent).

I'll happily post a summary to the list. Thank you!

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

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