Book suggestions?

James J. Mischler mischlerj at
Tue Apr 5 13:35:29 UTC 2011


I recommend "Language Myths," edited by Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill. I have used it as a supplementary text in an introduction to linguistics class, and it worked well. The text is written for those who have not studied linguistics. Each chapter is written by a linguist and discusses an issue that is important to understanding how language works.

Jim Mischler, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
Natchitoches, LA  71497  USA
mischlerj at

From: funknet-bounces at [funknet-bounces at] On Behalf Of Edith A Moravcsik [edith at]
Sent: Tuesday, April 05, 2011 8:24 AM
To: Johanna Rubba
Cc: The LINGUIST Discussion List; funknet at
Subject: Re: [FUNKNET] Book suggestions?

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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