Book suggestions?

Edith A Moravcsik edith at
Tue Apr 5 13:24:49 UTC 2011

I strongly and enthusiastically recommend Guy Deutscher's wonderful books: 

1/ The unfolding of language. An evolutionary tour of mankind's greatest invention. 2005. New York: Henry Holt. 

2/ Through the language glass. Why the world looks so different in other languages. 2010. New York: Henry Holt. 


Edith Moravcsik 

----- Original Message -----

From: "Johanna Rubba" <jrubba at> 
To: "The LINGUIST Discussion List" <LINGUIST at LISTSERV.LINGUISTLIST.ORG>, funknet at 
Sent: Monday, April 4, 2011 8:58:34 PM 
Subject: [FUNKNET] Book suggestions? 


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 

Edith A. Moravcsik 
Professor Emerita of Linguistics 
Department of Linguistics 
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 
Milwaukee, WI 53201-0413 

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