Synopses & Reviews
The media are ruining English"; "Some languages are harder than others"; "Children can't speak or write properly anymore." Such pieces of "cultural wisdom" are often expressed in newspapers and on radio and television. Rarely is there a response from experts in the fields of language and language development. In this book Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill have invited nineteen respected linguists from all over the world to address these "language myths"--showing that they vary from the misconceived to the downright wrong. With essays ranging from "Women Talk Too Much" and "In the Appalachians They Speak Like Shakespeare" to "Italian Is Beautiful, German Is Ugly" and "They Speak Really Bad English Down South and in New York City," Language Myths is a collection that is wide-ranging, entertaining, and authoritative.
The field of language is one full of misconceptions about the way in which language works, or is used. This collection of essays tackles beliefs, correcting a catalogue of errors such as: aborigines speak a primitive language, French people speak faster and German is ugly.
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
About the Author
is a Reader in Linguistics at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, and the author of many books and articles on word formation, international varieties of English, and language change in current English.
Peter Trudgill is professor of English linguistics at Fribourg, Switzerland. An author of many books and articles on sociolinguistics and dialectology, he has carried out linguistic fieldwork in most countries.
Table of Contents
A Note on the Contributors
Myth 1: The Meanings of Words Should Not be Allowed to Vary or Change: Peter Trudgill
Myth 2: Some Languages Are Just Not Good Enough: Ray Harlow
Myth 3: The Media Are Ruining English: Jean Aitchison
Myth 4: French is a Logical