DON'T BELIEVE A WORD: The Surprising Truth About Language


DON'T BELIEVE A WORD: The Surprising Truth About Language

DAVID SHARIATMADARI    Book Number: 90401    Product format: Hardback

Do words create thoughts, or is it the other way round? Who decides what a word means? Is it true that language is going down the drain? How do children learn a language? People are entranced by the words of poets and writers, but at the other end of the spectrum language is functional, differentiating social classes and used as a weapon to keep people out. A key figure in 20th century linguistic theory was Noam Chomsky, who initiated a paradigm shift in linguistics by arguing that children's responses to language stimuli were genetically determined. Rather than the formal analysis of phonemes and morphemes, the emphasis moved to how structure is stored in the brain's synapses. Chomsky's ideas were reinforced by Stephen Pinker in the 1990s, but they have been modified again by discoveries suggesting that language is not a specialised organ, but exists because of capacities evolved for other purposes. Indo-European languages are thought to have evolved from a single source, and although the Indo-Aryan branch split off several thousand years ago, there are still recognisable correspondences, for instance the word bhratar meaning brother in Sanskrit. In earlier years AAVE - African American Vernacular English - has been heavily criticised as an incorrect form of English, but in fact it has its own rules and systems, and an expression such as "she be walking" has a useful function in expressing something done habitually. Other topics covered are grammatical gender, NSM - natural semantic metalanguage - and the false theories linking language with race. 324pp, glossary, sources.
Published price: £16.99
Bibliophile price: £6.99


Additional product information

ISBN 9781474608435
Browse these categories as well: Word Books and Dictionaries, Psychology & Sociology

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