All About Language: A Guide

ISBN : 9780199238408

Barry J. Blake
344 Pages
170 x 245 mm
Pub date
Feb 2008
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In clear, congenial style Barry Blake explains how language works. He describes the make-up of words and how they're built from sounds and signs and put together in phrases and sentences. He examines the dynamics of conversation and the relations between the sound and meaning. He shows how languages help their users connect to each other and to the world, how they vary around the world, why they never stop changing, and that no two people speak a language in the same way. He looks at how language is acquired by infant children, how it relates to thought, and its operations in the brain. He investigates current trends and issues such as the levelling of linguistic class differences and the rise of new secret or in-group languages such as argot and teenspeak. He describes the history of writing from its origins to digital diffusion, and ends by looking at how language might have originated and then evolved among our distant hominid and primate ancestors. Language is crucial to every aspect of our lives whether we're thinking, talking, or dreaming. Barry Blake reveals the wonders that lie beneath the surface of everyday communication, enriching his exposition with a unique blend of anecdote and humour. His engaging guide is for everyone curious about language or who needs to know more about it.


1 Introduction

Part One: Words
2 Word Classes
3 Forming New Words
4 Meaning of Words

Part Two: Syntax and Discourse
5 The Simple Sentence
6 Compound and Complex Sentences
7 Using Language

Part Three: Speech and Writing
8 Phonetics
9 Phonology
10 Writing

Part Four: Variation and Change
11 Varieties
12 Language Change

Part Five: The Brain
13 Language Acquisition
14 Language Processing: Brains and Computers
15 The Origin of Language

Glossary of Terms
References and Further Reading

About the author: 

Barry Blake has been teaching students about language for almost four decades. He is now Emeritus Professor of Linguistics at La Trobe University. With R. M. W. Dixon he co-edited five volumes of the Handbook of Australian Languages (Benjamins 1979, 1981, 1983; OUP 1991, 2000). His many outstanding books include Case (second edition CUP 2001), Relational Grammar (Routledge 1990), as well as several foundational works on Australian Aboriginal languages.

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