From Library Journal
Jackendoff (linguistics, Brandeis Univ.) tackles the substantial tasks of assessing where Noam Chomsky's foundation of research has led linguistics and reinterpreting his theory of universal grammar. While embracing many of Chomsky's ideas, Jackendoff proposes his own overall theory of language. His well-documented discussion covers "combinatoriality" (or grammar rules) and language processing, as well as lexical and phrasal semantics. Jackendoff's inquiry draws on and complements research in neuroscience, psychology, and biological evolution. For example, he examines working and long-term memory in language production and, most important, discusses phonology, syntax, and semantics as parallel, equally productive, or generative aspects of language. Like Lyle Jenkins (Biolinguistics: Exploring the Biology of Language, Cambridge Univ., 2000), he emphasizes connections between language and biology. Lacking a glossary and a list of the numerous abbreviations, this work is scholarly in approach and hence less accessible than works like Trevor Harely's broad, updated The Psychology of Language: From Data to Theory (Psychology Pr., 2001. 2d ed.). It is nevertheless a significant piece of scholarship and is highly recommended for academic libraries. Marianne Orme, Des Plaines P.L., IL
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"The intellectual journey of one of the most original and creative thinkers in modern linguistics."--John R. Taylor, Studies in Language
"It's a rich mix, but one laid out in refreshingly plain language.... Provides challenging ideas and a fruitful combination of observation and analysis.... My advice is to read the book for the exceptional effort at synthesis that it is."--Merrill Garrett, Science
"A sweeping survey of every major aspect of language and communication. ... He counters the belief that language stems from syntactic structure alone."--Science News
"Jackendoff is certainly right in thinking that the question of why language has come to be as it is is one that linguists cannot permanently ignore... His breadth of knowledge and soundness of judgment, along with just the right amount of adventurousness, make for a book that deserves to be read and reread by anyone seriously interested in the state of the art of research on language."--American Scientist
"Few books really deserve the cliche 'this should be read by every researcher in the field,' but Ray Jackendoff's Foundations of Language
does. I think it is the most important book in the sciences of language to have appeared in many years. Jackendoff has long had a genius for seeing both he forest and the trees, and he puts his gift to good use here in a dazzling combination of theory-building and factual integration. The result is a compelling new view of language and its place in the natural world."--Steven Pinker, Professor of Psychology, MIT, and author of The Language Instinct
and Words and Rules
"A masterpiece.... The book as a whole deserves a wide readership."--Nature