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An Introduction to Language Description

Author(s): John Rhoades

Book Description

This book introduces the basic systems of language, and examines how these can be investigated and described. The systems of organizing speech sounds (phonology), meaning (lexical semantics), and grammar (morphology and syntax) are described, along with methods of figuring these out for other languages. The text will foster a deep appreciation in the reader of the fact that language is patterned and that these patterns can be discovered. To this end, problems using actual language data are presented so that the reader can apply the methods described in the book. In a sense, An Introduction to Language Description is a workbook in linguistic analysis where the reader can actually get involved in dealing with language data. Suggested solutions are provided following the exercises.

The book has an anthropological outlook with a focus upon usage, not correctness. Further, language structures are not presented as abstract puzzles divorced from actual human speech communication. Throughout each chapter, references are made to humans speaking and choosing among structural elements. This is designed to ground the presentation in the realities of speech; a reality that each reader shares as a language user.


ISBN-13: 978-1-4438-5357-6
ISBN-10: 1-4438-5357-7
Date of Publication: 01/01/2014
Pages / Size: 192 / A5
Price: £39.99


John Rhoades is Emeritus Professor and former Chair of Anthropology at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, New York. He is the author of Linguistic Diversity and Language Belief in Kenya (Syracuse University Press, Eastern African Studies) and “The ‘Ugly American’ as a Misunderstood Anthropological Hero” (in The Heroic Anthropologist Rides Again, edited by Frank Salamone, Cambridge Scholars Publishing).