All About Language: A Guide

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OUP Oxford, Apr 24, 2008 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 344 pages
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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.

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Abbreviations and conventions
1 Introduction
2 Word classes
3 Forming new words
8 Phonetics
9 Phonology
10 Writing
PART IVVariation and change
11 Varieties
12 Language change
PART VThe brain
13 Language acquisition

4 Meaning of words
PART IISyntax and discourse
5 The simple sentence
6 Compound and complex sentences
7 Using language
PART IIISpeech and writing
brains and computers
15 The origin of language
Glossary of terms
References and further reading

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About the author (2008)

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.