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In 1999 Bernd Kortmann, Full Professor of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Freiburg, published the book "Linguistik: Essentials" which has been used as a standard textbook for English linguistics at many universities across Germany ever since. The problem, however, for many students was that the book was written in German and thus rather difficult to use in order to prepare for exams (Zwischenprüfung, Staatsexamen, Magister) because in these situations you need the appropriate English terminology. In 2005 Kortmann published an English edition of his book under the title "English Linguistics: Essentials" which has turned into an invaluable companion for any student of English lingusitics.

The book is divided into eight chapters tackling the most well-known disciplines of lingusitics: "Linguistics at the turn of the 21st century" (giving an overview of the dominant schools of linguistics in the 20th century such as Structuralism, Functionalism and Formalism), "Phonetics ans phonology", "Morphology", "Contrastive Linguistics" (dealing with the major differences between English and German), "Semantics", "Pragmatics" and "Sociolingusitics". The aim of the book "is to introduce university students to the central branches, core concepts, and current trends in the study of English language and linguistics" (7).

Each chapter is subdivided into several subchapters, a checklist including the most relevant terms of the discipline, exercises and a short bibliography. The chapter about "Semantics", for example, is subdivided into the chapters "Branches and limits of semantics", "Types and facets of meaning", "Structural semantics: Meaning structures in the vocabulary" and "Cognitive Semantics: Prototypes and metaphors". After introducing the basic concepts and terms of the discipline, Kortmann analyses how two different schools of linguistics, Structuralism and Cognitive Linguistics, approach the subject and where one can detect the most striking differences. Whether one has understood what one has just read can be checked via the attached exercise questions. Typical questions asked in this section are "What is structural about structural semantics?" or "What are the major differences between structural and cognitive semantics?"

Conclusion: Probably the best companion to the vast field of English linguistics. I bought the German edition six years ago when I took up my studies in Freiburg and used it for preparing for the "Introduction to Synchronic Linguistics"-exam as well as for the "Zwischenprüfung". When I approached my "Staatsexamen" I bought the English edition to be sure about the basic concepts and core terminology of the field. I can strongly recommend the "Kortmann-Bible" for any student of English whether first semester or just before his/her finals.
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