Slang, writes Michael Adams, is poetry on the down low, and sometimes lowdown poetry on the down low, but rarely, if ever, merely lowdown. It is the poetry of everyday speech, the people's poetry, and it deserves attention as language playing on the cusp of art. In Slang: The People's Poetry, Adams covers this perennially interesting subject in a serious but highly engaging way, illuminating the fundamental question "What is Slang" and defending slang--and all forms of nonstandard English--as integral parts of the American language. Why is an expression like "bed head" lost in a lexical limbo, found neither in slang nor standard dictionaries? Why are snow-boarding terms such as "fakie," "goofy foot," "ollie" and "nollie" not considered slang? As he addresses these and other lexical curiosities, Adams reveals that slang is used in part to define groups, distinguishing those who are "down with it" from those who are "out of it." Slang is also a rebellion against the mainstream. It often irritates those who color within the lines--indeed, slang is meant to irritate, sometimes even to shock. But slang is also inventive language, both fun to make and fun to use. Rather than complain about slang as "bad" language, Adams urges us to celebrate slang's playful resistance to the commonplace and to see it as the expression of an innate human capacity, not only for language, but for poetry.
A series of previously unpublished interviews, spanning the twenty year period from 1968 to 1988, that looks at the connection between Chomsky's linguistic studies and his political analysis. Prepared for Chomsky in celebration of his sixtieth birthday. "This wide-ranging book offers glimpses of his studies on language, anarchist theory and critiques of radical politics."--"NACLA Report on the Americas"
The world's foremost expert on the English language takes us on an entertaining and eye-opening tour of the history of our vernacular through the ages.
In "The Story of English in 100 Words," an entertaining history of the world's most ubiquitous language, David Crystal draws on one hundred words that best illustrate the huge variety of sources, influences and events that have helped to shape our vernacular since the first definitively English word roe' was written down on the femur of a roe deer in the fifth century. Featuring ancient words ( loaf'), cutting edge terms that relfect our world ( twittersphere'), indispensible words that shape our tongue ( and', what'), fanciful words ( fopdoodle') and even obscene expressions (the "c word..".), David Crystal takes readers on a tour of the winding byways of our language via the rude, the obscure and the downright surprising."
How language evolved has been called "the hardest problem in science." In Adam's Tongue, Derek Bickerton--long a leading authority in this field--shows how and why previous attempts to solve that problem have fallen short. Taking cues from topics as diverse as the foraging strategies of ants, the distribution of large prehistoric herbivores, and the construction of ecological niches, Bickerton produces a dazzling new alternative to the conventional wisdom.
Language is unique to humans, but it isn't the only thing that sets us apart from other species--our cognitive powers are qualitatively different. So could there be two separate discontinuities between humans and the rest of nature? No, says Bickerton; he shows how the mere possession of symbolic units--words--automatically opened a new and different cognitive universe, one that yielded novel innovations ranging from barbed arrowheads to the Apollo spacecraft.
Written in Bickerton's lucid and irreverent style, this book is the first to thoroughly integrate the story of how language evolved with the story of how humans evolved. Sure to be controversial, it will make indispensable reading both for experts in the field and for every reader who has ever wondered how a species as remarkable as ours could have come into existence.'
The classic book on the development of human language by the world's leading expert on language and the mind.
In this classic, the world's expert on language and mind lucidly explains everything you always wanted to know about language: how it works, how children learn it, how it changes, how the brain computes it, and how it evolved. With deft use of examples of humor and wordplay, Steven Pinker weaves our vast knowledge of language into a compelling story: language is a human instinct, wired into our brains by evolution. The Language Instinct received the William James Book Prize from the American Psychological Association and the Public Interest Award from the Linguistics Society of America. This edition includes an update on advances in the science of language since The Language Instinct was first published.
Fresh-squeezed Lexicology, with Twists
No man of letters savors the ABC's, or serves them up, like language-loving humorist Roy Blount Jr. His glossary, from ad hominy to zizz, is hearty, full bodied, and out to please discriminating palates coarse and fine. In 2008, he celebrated the gists, tangs, and energies of letters and their combinations in Alphabet Juice, to wide acclaim. Now, Alphabetter Juice. Which is better.
This book is for anyone--novice wordsmith, sensuous reader, or career grammarian--who loves to get physical with words. What is the universal sign of disgust, ew, doing in beautiful and cutie? Why is toadless, but not frogless, in the Oxford English Dictionary? How can the U. S. Supreme Court find relevance in gollywoddles? Might there be scientific evidence for the sonicky value of hunch? And why would someone not bother to spell correctly the very word he is trying to define on Urbandictionary.com?
Digging into how locutions evolve, and work, or fail, Blount draws upon everything from The Tempest to The Wire. He takes us to Iceland, for salmon-watching with a "girl gillie," and to Georgian England, where a distinguished etymologist bites off more of a "giantess" than he can chew. Jimmy Stewart appears, in connection with kludge and the bombing of Switzerland. Litigation over supercalifragilisticexpialidocious leads to a vintage werewolf movie; news of possum-tossing, to metanarrative.
As Michael Dirda wrote in The Washington Post Book World, "The immensely likeable Blount clearly possesses what was called in the Italian Renaissance 'sprezzatura, ' that rare and enviable ability to do even the most difficult things without breaking a sweat." Alphabetter Juice is brimming with sprezzatura. Have a taste.
Noam Chomsky's work has had a decisive influence on the development of linguistics and more broadly on the study of mind and language. This book, which contains two new papers by Chomsky, assesses that 'Chomskyan Turn' in linguistics and the cognitive sciences.
The articles by Chomsky Linguistics and Adjacent Fields and Linguistics and Cognitive Science are particularly valuable both in reviewing the current state of the generative enterprise and in presenting his new 'functional' approach to principles of Universal Grammar.
The concluding papers focus on syntactic issues in Government and Binding.
Long out of print, this classic work on the Dakota language offers extensive information on Dakota grammar and contains a bilingual selection of Dakota myths. Dakota Grammar presents three interrelating aspects of language and culture, beginning with a detailed description of the Santee dialect of the Dakota language and its grammar. The texts of traditional stories, as recounted in Dakota by native speakers, are accompanied by full English translations. Riggs also provides an ethnographic overview of various aspects of Dakota culture and history that enhances the value of this book to all students of Dakota.
A worthy companion to both Riggs's A Dakota-English Dictionary (MNHS Press) and John P. Williamson's An English-Dakota Dictionary (MNHS Press), this volume lives on as an important source for the preservation and revitalization of Dakota culture.
Deborah Tannen's You Just Don't Understand spent nearly four years (in cloth and paper) on The New York Times Best Seller list and has sold over a million and a half copies. Clearly, Tannen's insights into how and why women and men so often misunderstand each other when they talk has touched a nerve. For years a highly respected scholar in the field of linguistics, she has now become widely known for her work on how conversational style differences associated with gender affect relationships. Her life work has demonstrated how close and intelligent analysis of conversation can reveal the extraordinary complexities of social relationships--including relationships between men and women.
Now, in Gender and Discourse, Tannen has gathered together six of her scholarly essays, including her newest and previously unpublished work in which language and gender are examined through the lens of "sex-class-linked" patterns, rather than "sex-linked" patterns. These essays provide a theoretical backdrop to her best-selling books--and an informative introduction which discusses her field of linguistics, describes the research methods she typically uses, and addresses the controversies surrounding her field as well as some misunderstandings of her work. (She argues, for instance, that her cultural approach to gender differences does not deny that men dominate women in society, nor does it ascribe gender differences to women's "essential nature.") The essays themselves cover a wide range of topics. In one, she analyzes a number of conversational strategies--such as interruption, topic raising, indirection, and silence--and shows that, contrary to much work on language and gender, no strategy exclusively expresses dominance or submissiveness in conversation--interruption (or overlap) can be supportive, silence and indirection can be used to control. It is the interactional context, the participants' individual styles, and the interaction of their styles, Tannen shows, that result in the balance of power. She also provides a fascinating analysis of four groups of males and females (second-, sixth-, and tenth-grade students, and twenty-five year olds) conversing with their best friends, and she includes an early article co-authored with Robin Lakoff that presents a theory of conversational strategy, illustrated by analysis of dialogue in Ingmar Bergman's Scenes from a Marriage.
Readers interested in the theoretical framework behind Tannen's work will find this volume fascinating. It will be sure to interest anyone curious about the crucial yet often unnoticed role that language and gender play in our daily lives.