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Language Myths (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 26. November 1998

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This is a unique collection of original essays by 21 of the world's leading linguists. The topics discussed focus on some of the most popular myths about language: the media are ruining English; children can't speak or write properly anymore; and, America is ruining the English language. The tone is lively and entertaining throughout and there are cartoons from Doonesbury and The Wizard of Id to illustrate some of the points. The book should have a wide readership not only amongst students who want to read leading linguists writing about popular misconceptions but also amongst the large number of people who enjoy reading about language in general.

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Language is a part of us all and is tightly woven into human experience. Yet, although research into language has increased at a phenomenal rate over the last fifty years, misconceptions abound.

This illuminating and highly readable collection of essays explores some of the myths, for example: standards of children's speech and writing have declined; women talk too much; the 'purity' of the English language is under threat; some languages are more attractive to the ear or are harder to learn than others; the media has a detrimental effect on language. These widely held views are questioned and shown to be based on inadequate or false information, or simply, not to be true. Other essays explore spelling problems, attitudes towards accents, controversies over changes in language, and the belief that some languages have no grammar.

Written by a team of leading linguists, Language Myths contains many valuable insights and provides a fascinating introduction into the way language works. The contributors are:

Jean Aitchison -- John Algeo -- Lars-Gunnar Andersson -- Laurie Bauer -- Winifred Bauer -- Edward Carney -- J. K. Chambers -- Jenny Cheshire -- John H. Esling -- Nicholas Evans -- Howard Giles and Nancy Niedzielski -- Ray Harlow -- Janet Holmes -- Anthony Lodge -- James Milroy -- Lesley Milroy -- Michael Montgomery -- Dennis R. Preston -- Peter Roach -- Peter Trudgill -- Walt Wolfram

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Format: Taschenbuch
Unfortunately, linguistic research is generally inaccessible to the non-linguist and so much that is written about human language for the masses is by non-specialists who take the opportunity to air their own prejudices. This book addresses many misconceptions about language, often supported by highly reputable authors who nevertheless can be shown to know nothing about the way language works. As editor Peter Trudgill says, if you want to know about physics, you ask a physicist; and if you want to know about language you ask a linguist and not just someone who has used it successfully in the past. The chapters are written by highly competent academics who are well-known in the linguistics community, and despite their being written for lay readers, there is much here that is also relevant for linguists and students of language. Read this book to find out how all languages are equally complex, why linguistic change is inevitable, and to laugh at the rubbish newspapers print.
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Ich studiere im Master Linguistik und habe mir dieses Buch bestellt, da mich Sprache per se auch außerhalb des Studiums interessiert, weshalb ich immer auf der Suche nach interessanter Lektüre zum Thema bin. Der Titel klang für mich interessant, ich habe mich ziemlich auf das Buch gefreut, aber nach den ersten paar Kapiteln stellte sich Ernüchterung ein: Die Argumentation ist sehr einseitig, ständig werden irgendwelche Irrglauben über Sprache völlig überspitzt dargestellt und dann – eher oberflächlich – als falsch entlarvt. Ich kann verstehen, dass das Buch eine breitere Leserschaft ansprechen soll, aber einige Vereinfachungen sind aus meiner Sicht total unpassend und eher kontraproduktiv, so wird z.B. die Terminologie zum Thema Rechtschreibung im Englischen kreuz und quer verwendet, sodass ich mich ernsthaft frage, was die Autoren sich dabei gedacht haben oder ob das jemals korrekturgelesen wurde. Schade!
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Meine Güte, ich bin wirklich a little upset, dass sowas wie dieses Geschreibe hier zur Lektüre in meinem Studiengang erkoren wurde. Was soll das sein? Ein paar Essays zum Thema zusammengeschusselt, die, würde ich sie als Student so abgeben sicher nochmal der Revision in den Augen meiner Profssorin bedürfen würden. Sicher, anfangs mag das ja noch etwas unterhaltsam sein, aber wenn man dann ab dem 5. oder 6. myth merkt, dass die Autoren IMMER darauf raus wollen, das social factors language use determinen (...) entlockt mir das nur ein gelangweiltes Gähnen und das Buch fliegt in die Ecke. Man kann vielleicht daraus lernen, nach welchem Schema man im Englischen einen essay verfassen sollte, jedoch sind die Beispiele, die die aufgestellten Thesen belegen sollen oftmals kaum bis nicht nachzuvollziehen oder schlichtweg zu pauschal und kaum wissenschaftlich. Aber mit der empirischen Forschung ist das bei Linguisten ja sowieso so eine Sache... Also, wer dieses Teil lesen muss wie ich hat mein Mitgefühl und wer nach Lektüre zum Thema Sprache sucht, sollte besser die Finger hiervon lassen (und vielleicht lieber etwas tiefer in die Tasche greifen und David Crystals "Cambridge Enzyklopädie der Sprache" erwerben).
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Die hilfreichsten Kundenrezensionen auf Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x9df7b114) von 5 Sternen 41 Rezensionen
61 von 64 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9df7d2d0) von 5 Sternen Excellent for the layman 14. März 2003
Von M. Karapcik - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
In my opinion, how much you like this book will depend on how much you know now. If you are a novice to linguistics or just curious, this book is excellent. It covers a broad range of subjects, avoids heavy use of technical jargon, and gives explanations that anyone can follow. The information is clear, well explained (not just "It's like this because it is because I said so."), and entertaining.
If you have already been doing some reading in linguistics, this book may be a bit simplistic. While I found parts interesting, much I already knew. In other cases, since similar arguments are in many works about linguistics (see "Teach Yourself Linguistics 5e" for much more detail than this book), as soon as the argument started, I could figure out the rest faster than it was explained. So, if you have some background in linguistics, this book is good for either (1) light reading, or (2) good explanations to use when people present the misconceptions described in the book.
15 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9ded9210) von 5 Sternen Language Myths 17. Dezember 2010
Von M. Reynard - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I got my degree in Linguistics and this was one of the books for my classes. For some particular reason I kept it and decided to read it again today. Everyone loves a good myth, and just as much people generally enjoy debunking a myth as well. That is what this book sets out to do for language. It is comprised of several chapters, each having their title state what it is that will be discussed and written by several different authors.

The Meaning of Words Should Not Be Allowed to Vary or Change by Peter Trudgill
He takes the time to explain how languages naturally change and with them, their words change meaning as well. There is nothing wrong with this and it is a development that should not be feared. He gives several examples in this chapter as well.

Some Languages are Just Not Good Enough by Ray Harlow
This chapter takes the time to discuss people's notions that some languages are just not sufficient for the modern world. It also explores the concept of countries with several languages using one prominent language in place of all others for ease of communication.

The Media Are Ruining English by Jean Aitchison
This chapter explores the effects media have on speakers of English and how stylistically English is expressed through media.

French is a Logical Language by Anthony Lodge
Lodge attempts to explain how there isn't really a "logical" language in the sense that rules tend to change for different things and one base set can never be applied to any one language.

English Spelling is Kattastroffik by Edward Carney
Like it sounds, this chapter covers the different rules of English spelling and how at times they do not seem logical. It tells you why some things are not spelled phonetically but rather are taken from other languages and adapted to English. It explains the rules behind certain spellings as well.

Women Talk Too Much by Janet Holmes
This is one most everyone has probably heard and Holmes sets out to disprove this myth. While she can't entirely, she does offer interesting research on situational speaking and the difference between genders.

Some Languages are Harder Than Others by Lars-Gunnar Andersson
This is an interesting one to try to disprove as from personal experience, I do find some languages harder than others. However, Andersson points out facts about native language and learning others and other concepts that make things necessarily easier for some languages and harder for others depending on a person's background and that it is not a static fact all over the world.

Children Can't Speak or Write Properly Anymore by James Milroy
Everyone always hears about how each generation is worse than the last. This applies to language too. Milroy discusses children's language and skills and how they might possibly just be naturally progressing linguistically as opposed to destroying the language.

In the Appalachians, They Speak Like Shakespeare by Michael Montgomery
Yeah, this is an odd sounding one and I had never heard of this notion before this book. However, Montgomery explores the myth that deep in the Appalachia there is an area that sounds like they are rehearsing a Shakespearean play.

Some Languages Have No Grammar by Winifred Bauer
Some people do believe this and Bauer illustrates how every language has a grammar and rules. They may not be obvious at first, but they are there.

Italian is Beautiful, German is Ugly by Howard Giles and Nancy Niedzielski
Everyone has a language they think is especially nice and it is true how Italian sounds pretty beautiful. But everyone also has different tastes and while some things can be beautiful in some languages and not others, all languages have something valuable in them.

Bad Grammar is Slovenly by Lesley Milroy
Ah, Grammar. People say that its misuse can make their ears burn. However, not everyone follows every rule of grammar correctly because it is in human nature to imitate those around them and the lines become blurred. Milroy focuses on how a misuse of Grammar is not lazy as one might think.

Black Children are Verbally Deprived by Walt Wolfram
This is a pretty insulting myth and it touches on how a race of people with such wonderful orators can have children who do not speak the language correctly. Wolfram focuses on this language and how it is not "deprived" but rather slang and other dialects are linguistically important.

Double Negatives Are Illogical by Jenny Cheshire
We've all probably used a double negative at some point in our lives. And despite it being illogical, we were understood or understood someone who has used it. Cheshire looks at this and wonders how it could possibly be illogical, if it is understood.

TV Makes People Sound the Same by J.K.Chambers
Chambers dispels this myth and proves that tv does not create a common sound for all people in an area. He offers some interesting studies to back his point.

You Shouldn't Say "It is Me" because 'Me' is Accusative by Laurie Bauer
This chapter goes into grammar and use of cases. It takes a focus on Latin and its contributions to the case structure.

They Speak Really Bad English Down South and in New York City by Dennis R. Preston
Ah accents. Even in America we fall prey to assuming things about people just by what comes out of their mouths. Preston takes a look at certain region's accents and how you shouldn't judge a person just by how they talk.

Some Languages are Spoken More Quickly Than Others by Peter Roach
This one is just as the chapter title says, Roach takes a look at the speed in which languages are spoken.

Aborigines Speak a Primitive Language by Nicholas Evans
Evans sets out in this chapter to describe how Aboriginal languages are not primitive and can compete in the modern world and retain full use.

Everyone Has An Accent But Me by John H. Esling
Everyone would like to believe that they have no accent, however, Esling explains that as long as you use language, you will have an accent.

America is Ruining the English Language by John Algeo
This chapter primarily focuses on how most British, and some Americans think that the American use of English is destroying the language. He focuses on how no language remains pure as they are constantly evolving.

There is also an index and introduction to some of the authors in this book. It is interesting to note that most of these chapters are easily understandable to the general public. It wasn't written for in-depth study by Linguists, but rather for the regular person who may just have an interest. This means that there aren't really any technical terms and the book only gets into the subject very briefly without any expansive study on any of the subjects. It is a good book for those outside the study or perhaps beginners in the study. As a Linguist I would have greatly enjoyed the book more if there had been more detail to it.

While some of the topics were interesting to me (Aborigines Speak a Primitive Language, The Meanings of Words.., Women Talk Too Much) some I didn't like near as well. For example, Some Languages Have No Grammar, while I believe there are people out there that believe this, common sense tells you that all languages must have rules and rules equal grammar so this is easy to disprove. Also, French is a Logical Language, is just strange to me. I had never heard of this before the book and really the explanation to me seemed simplistic and like they made the myth up just for filler for the book. Some of the other "myths" seemed to follow this as well as they just didn't seem realistic to me.

It is an interesting book and if some topics don't appeal to you it is easy to skip over the chapter without missing anything. If you have any interest in Linguistics, its a good book to take a glance through.

Language Myths
Copyright 1998
189 pages

Review by M. Reynard 2010
21 von 24 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9df7db70) von 5 Sternen A good source of information for linguists and non-linguists 5. April 2000
Von John Stephenson - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
Unfortunately, linguistic research is generally inaccessible to the non-linguist and so much that is written about human language for the masses is by non-specialists who take the opportunity to air their own prejudices. This book addresses many misconceptions about language, often supported by highly reputable authors who nevertheless can be shown to know nothing about the way language works. As editor Peter Trudgill says, if you want to know about physics, you ask a physicist; and if you want to know about language you ask a linguist and not just someone who has used it successfully in the past. The chapters are written by highly competent academics who are well-known in the linguistics community, and despite their being written for lay readers, there is much here that is also relevant for linguists and students of language. Read this book to find out how all languages are equally complex, why linguistic change is inevitable, and to laugh at the rubbish newspapers print.
43 von 54 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9df7d570) von 5 Sternen Tilting at Windmills 30. Januar 2007
Von David M. Giltinan - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch
I found this book to be a great disappointment. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing I find healthier than a little myth-debunking. So I was predisposed to like this collection of 21 essays, edited by Bauer and Trudgill.

Each chapter takes a particular 'language myth' and then argues against the validity of the myth, some more convincingly than others. (Having tried to learn both Russian and Spanish as foreign languages, I think it's fair to say that the statement "Some languages are harder than others" is not a myth). The quality of the contributions is somewhat variable, though most are quite readable. This accessibility to readers who may not necessarily have any formal exposure to linguistics is the book's main strength, in my view.

The reason for my disappointment is that, for almost half the chapters, I found the stated myth to be a straw man, which made those chapters not particularly interesting to read. There were two common problems - in some cases, the wording of the myth was so non-specific as to be meaningless, another common flaw was that the myth was worded in a very extreme fashion, essentially presenting a straw man for the author to demolish.

For instance, myth 1 "The meanings of words should not be allowed to vary or change" is couched in such absolute terms that anyone expressing even slight disagreement is automatically made to seem unreasonable. Or take the example "bad grammar is slovenly". The author appears to interpret "bad" grammar to mean anything that deviates, even slightly, from some highly codified set of rules. The acknowledgement that one can communicate clearly, without ambiguity, without sticking to the letter of the law each and every time, is hardly startling, That said, there are some deviations from the rules which are not helpful, because they induce an avoidable ambiguity. This type of bad grammar is indeed slovenly. By arguing against a strawman of questionable relevance, an opportunity is lost to explore the question in a more nuanced fashion.

Other allegedly widespread myths whose prevalence I found questionable were "Some languages are just not good enough" (what does this even mean?), "French is a logical language", "Women talk too much" (are these people serious?), "Some languages have no grammar" (does anyone over the age of 10 seriously believe this for an instant?), "You shouldn't say 'It is me'" (why single out this particular example?), "Everyone has an accent except me", "They speak really bad English down South and in New York City", "In the Appalachians they speak like Shakespeare" (even if one tries to take this seriously, the inevitable question rises unbidden: "how would anyone know?")

I might have liked the book better if it had eschewed the "mythbusting" device, the effect of which was to polarize arguments unnecessarily, and instead had just explored the questions raised in a less artificially polemic manner.
21 von 25 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9ded9a80) von 5 Sternen Interesting 15. März 2004
Von T. Hooper - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
This is a collection of essays by today's leading linguists. Their mission is to debunk some of the most popular myths about languages. For example, some of the topics coverd are "Double Negatives Are Illogical," "TV Makes People Sound the Same," and "Some Languages Are Harder Than Others." My favorite essay had to do with the topic of the perception of American dialects.
I think this book is very easy to read and it's not necessary to have a background in linguistics to enjoy it. Also, some of the things you learn by reading this book will give you a chance to get revenge on your high school English teacher. Check it out.
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