The Workings of Language
From Prescriptions to Perspectives
Eminent linguists tell the real stories behind prescriptivism, dialects, American Sign Language, the English-Only movement, language and politics, media communication, and other topics concerning language in society.
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The essays in this book help to make sense of the workings of language in our everyday world—on the personal, local, national, and international levels. The authors are all linguists, seeking to help readers free themselves of language prejudices, thus opening the way to better informed views on the function of language in society, a more balanced treatment in schools, and more linguistically-sound public policies.
Defusing Chicken-Little prognostications about English, this volume suggests that dark claims about language are not to be taken at face value. Instead, these claims function as a signal: time to step back. Offering just such a time-out, eminent linguists explore the fuller picture underlying language in our society, examining prescriptivism, Black English, Ozark English, American Sign Language, English-Only, and Endangered Languages.
After helping stomp out such linguistic fires, the linguists showcase the potent workings of language: world englishes, language and politics, media, prejudice, creativity, gender, and humor, thus opening the way to better informed views on the function of language in schools, and more linguistically sound public policies.
- Table of Contents
Introduction by Rebecca S. Wheeler
Ways of Talking
The Language Mavens by Steven Pinker
North American Varieties of English as By-products of Language Contacts by Salikoko S. Mufwene
African American Vernacular English Is Not Standard English with Mistakes by Geoffrey K. Pullum
Home Speech as Springboard to School Speech: Oakland's Commendable Work on Ebonics by Rebecca S. Wheeler
Southern Mountain English: The Language of the Ozarks and Southern Appalachia by Bethany K. Dumas
On the Other Hand: American Sign Language, Signed Englishes, and Other Visual Language Systems by Lynn S. Messing
Englishes, English-Only, and Languages in Danger of Extinction
"From Out in Left Field? That's Not Cricket": Finding a Focus for the Language Curriculum by David Crystal
Investigating English around the World: The International Corpus of English by Gerald Nelson and Bas Aarts
Speaking of America: Why English-Only Is a Bad Idea by Geoffrey Nunberg
Language Loss, Our Loss by Mari Rhydwen
Language and Politics, Prejudice, the Media, Creativity, Humor, and Gender
Metaphor, Morality, and Politics: Or, Why Conservatives Have Left Liberals in the Dust by George Lakoff
Language as a Weapon of Hate by Rae A. Moses
Language and the News Media: Five Facts about the Fourth Estate by Colleen Cotter
Life on Mars: Language and the Instruments of Invention by Mark Turner and Gilles Fauconnier
Laughing at and Laughing with: The Linguistics of Humor, and Humor in Literature by Victor Raskin
Women and Men in Conversation by Deborah Tannen
Breaking Mythical Bonds: African American Women's Language by Denise Troutman
The gap between the results of linguistic research and commonly held views about language seems to widen almost daily. Drawing on topics of immediate public interest--like Ebonics and the differences in communication styles between men and women--^IThe Workings of Language: From Prescriptions to Perspectives^R attempts to build a bridge across the chasm....[It] will...serve as a welcome addition to the syllabus of any instructor whose responsibility it is to teach the English language and linguistics courses.