Preliminary Examination – VIII: General Linguistics

Reading List 2003-2004

Advance Reading:

Aitchison, J. (1989). The Articulate Mammal: an Introduction to Psycholinguistics / Routledge.

Pinker, S.(1994). The Language Instinct Penguin.

General Textbooks

Atkinson, M. Kilby, D. and Roca, I. (1988). Foundations of General Linguistics , 2nd edition. Allen and Unwin.

Akmajian, A. Demers, R, Farmer, A. and Harnish, R. (1990). An Introduction to Language and Communication, 3rd or 4th edition. MIT Press.

Fromkin, V., Rodman, R. and Hyams, N. (2002) An Introduction to Language, 7th Edition. Heinle and Heinle.

Matthews, P.H. (2003) Linguistics: A very short introduction. Oxford: OUP.

Radford, A. et al. (1999) Linguistics: An Introduction. Cambridge: CUP.

More Specific Works

Aitchison, J. (1994). Words in the Mind: an Introduction to the Mental Lexicon , 2nd edition. Blackwell.

Clark, J. and Yallop, C. (1995) An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. Oxford: Blackwell.

Caplan, D. (1992). Language:Structure, Processing and Disorders . MIT Press.

Carnie, A. (2002). Syntax: A Generative Introduction . Oxford: Blackwell.

*Cruse, D.A. (2000) Meaning in Language: An Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics. Oxford: OUP.

Culler, J. (1976) Saussure. Glasgow: Fontana/Collins.

*Davenport, M. and Hannahs, S.J. (1998). Introducing Phonetics and Phonology . Arnold.

International Phonetic Association (1999). Handbook of the International Phonetic Association . Cambridge University Press.

Lyons, J. (1968) Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: CUP.

Lyons, J. (1996). Linguistic Semantics. Cambridge: CUP.

McMahon, A.(1994). Understanding Language Change . Cambridge University Press.

Matthews, P. H. (1991). Morphology , 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.

Ouhalla, J. (1999). Introducing Transformational Grammar . Arnold.

Pinker, S. (1999) Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. London: Weidenfeld & Nicholson.

Radford, A. (1992). Transformational Grammar: A First Course . Cambridge University Press.

Romaine, S. (1982). Sociolinguistic Variation in Speech Communities . Arnold.

*Tallerman, Maggie (1998) Understanding Syntax. London: Arnold.

Todd, Loreto (1974) Pidgins and Creoles. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

Yule, George (1999) Pragmatics. Oxford: OUP.

Useful Reference

Crystal, D. (1997a). A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics , 4th ed. Blackwell.

Crystal, D. (1997b). The Cambridge Encyclopaedia of Language, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press.

*Matthews, P.H. (1997) The Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics. Oxford:OUP.

Trask, R.L. (1993). A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics . Routledge.

*Recommended for purchase

Essay Titles

  • What is Linguistics?
  • Explain and illustrate the distinction drawn by Saussure between ‘synchrony’ and ‘diachrony’. How does this distinction relate to the other Saussurean dichotomies?
  • ‘In language there are only differences’ (SAUSSURE). Discuss.
  • Semantics and Pragmatics

  • What is the difference between Semantics and Pragmatics? How easy is it to draw a distinction between the two?
  • Explain and illustrate the distinction between vagueness and ambiguity in language.
  • How can pragmatics account for ways in which speakers mean something other than what they (literally) say?
  • What is a Speech Act? OR Give a brief account of conversational implicature.
  • Language and Cognition

  • What types of evidence show that imitation cannot explain language acquisition by normal children?
  • Is there a critical period for language acquisition? If so, what implications does this have for the nature of human language?
  • How is linguistic knowledge stored in the brain? How do we know?
  • What is the relevance of studies of aphasia to our understanding of normal lingustic behaviour?
  • Language Change

  • Sound change is regular and causes irregularity; analogy is irregular and causes regularity. (Sturtevant) Discuss and illustrate.
  • ‘The process of linguistic change has never been directly observed … such observation, with our present facilities, is inconceivable’ (BLOOMFIELD). Was Bloomfield too pessimistic about the possibility of observing language change in progress?
  • Assess the importance of grammaticalisation in the processes of language change.
  • “There is less resistance to change in the semantics than in other areas of the grammar” (Ullman). Discuss.
  • Sociolinguistics

  • What (if anything) distinguishes pidgins and creoles from other languages?
  • In what ways can the study of pidgin and creole languages inform our understanding of the nature of language in general?
  • Discuss the relevance of gender, age and social class to the study of variation within language.
  • In what ways is the notion of a ‘standard language’ a problematic one in sociolinguistic studies?

Last updated 1st October 2005.