One of the risks of a telephone interview is that the sound quality can be less than ideal, and sometimes there’s no way around this and we just have to try to press on with it. Under those conditions, although I get used to it,
It’s tempting to think that lexicography can go on, untroubled by the concerns of theoretical linguistics, while the rest of us plunge into round after round of bloody internecine strife. For better or worse,
It’s not surprising that human language reflects and respects logical relations – logic, in some sense, ‘works’. For linguists, this represents a potentially interesting avenue of approach to the much-debated question of innateness.
Pretty much everyone who’s done a linguistics course has come across the name of Ferdinand de Saussure – a name that’s attached to such fundamentals as the distinction between synchrony and diachrony, and the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign.
Rhythm, metaphor, politics: these three features of language simultaneously enable us to communicate with each other and go largely unnoticed in the course of that communication. In An Anatomy of Chinese: Rhythm, Metaphor,
Morphology is sometimes painted as the ‘here be dragons’ of the linguistic map: a baffling domain of idiosyncrasies and irregularities, in which Heath Robinson contraptions abound and anything goes. In his new book,
Although there seems to be a trend towards linguistic theories getting more cognitively or neurally plausible, there doesn’t seem to be an imminent prospect of a reconciliation between linguistics and neuroscience.
A problem with doing linguistics is that once you start, it’s kind of inescapable – you see it everywhere. At some point a few months back, I was watching a DVD of a comedy series and came to the conclusion that its distinctiveness was all about the wa...
In language, as in life, history is constantly repeating itself. In her book The Linguistic Cycle: Language Change and the Language Faculty (Oxford University Press, 2011), Elly van Gelderen tackles the question of such ‘cyclical’ changes.
The only disappointment with A History of Psycholinguistics: The Pre-Chomskyan Era (Oxford UP, 2012) is that, as the subtitle says, the story it tells stops at the cognitive revolution, before Pim Levelt is himself a major player in psycholinguistics.