Top critical review
3 people found this helpful
It has much to be desired
on October 30, 2011
I am getting my my master's degree in Linguistics, and my professor has chosen to use this book for our Introduction to Linguistics course. Finegan writes this book as if he's writing it for professional linguists who need their memories refreshed. Instead of simply putting in the book what students need: clear-cut, unambigous, non-circular definitions, he quickly glosses over terms then gives very long, extensive examples without even having defined the term. For example, pragmatics is defined as "the branch of linguistics that studies information structure" (p. 250). His definitions do not help the learner fully understand the term, he simply doesn't define it.
Majority of the examples are given in foreign languages. This is not helpful if you have never studied any of them, and for the ones you have studied, it doesn't make things easier. The exercises he has at the end of each chapter are ambiguous. For example, exercise 8.1a, pp. 272: "Identify the noun phrase that is the topic in sentences 2, 3, and 4." This question can go two ways- identify one noun phrase that is the topic of each of those sentences as a whole or identify three separate noun phrases. Finegan should take more time in the structure of defining the terms in his next edition and condense some of the long, unnecessary examples, as well as get on board with standards (the phonetic charts he uses are out of date).