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The Study of Language Paperback – June 28, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0521568517 ISBN-10: 052156851X Edition: 2nd
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Comment: Cambridge University Press, TPB, 1996, 2nd edition, 9th printing (2003). Good reading copy, mild wear cover and corners, highlighting on about 10 pages but mostly clean
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"...a well informed....making it a well-rounded tool for students becoming acquainted with the multiple facets of linguistics." Journal of Indo-European Studies

Book Description

Including a new chapter on pragmatics, and an expansion of the chapter on semantics, this revised and updated edition incorporates many changes that reflect developments in language study over the past decade. It also has many more illustrations, examples, and quotes.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 2 edition (June 28, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052156851X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521568517
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,274,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 67 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Culver TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 9, 2004
Format: Paperback
THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE is a basic linguistics introductory published by Cambridge University Press. Generally CUP's linguistics textbooks are the best in the field, so I acquired this book to see how its basic introduction was. Unfortunately, I was left very disappointed, and doubt that this is a trustworthy introduction to the field.
The first warning sign is that there is no biography of the author George Yule, and therefore the reader cannot see how he is qualified to prepare a textbook, where his graduate degrees are from, etc. The author then goes on to pepper his work with urban legends, such as the assertion that English spelling comes from Dutch printers, and the tired yarn that William James had a run-in with a crazy old lady who believed the world was on the back of a turtle.
However, the greatest mark against the book comes in its use of Bill Bryson as a source. Bryson produced two popular-linguistics books over ten years over, even though he had no training in linguistics. Many linguists have condemned the books for their abundance of urban legends, misunderstandings, and total lack of error-checking ("Eskimo's have 50 words for snow", "Russian has no word for "engagement ring" or "fun"). In THE STUDY OF LANGUAGE, Yule uses questionable passages from Bryson's books to illustrate points, and even seems to recommend them to students.
Concerning other aspects of the book, it does not seem usable. Yule spends very little time on phonetics and phonology, and introduces only concepts found in English, even though most students undoubtedly wish to know about more exotic languages.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Caponsacchi HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
It's not the most comprehensive, analytic, graphically-appealing of the many linguistics texts out there. But for undergraduates I've found it to be the most readable and practical. Students can handle the book in a single semester, insuring that they will come away with an understanding of what linguistics is about. If the goal is to produce linguists, I'd look to other texts.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 26, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good general introduction to the field of linguistics, and it can be used in a course on "linguistics lite", or as the basis of a more indepth course, if the instructor supplements it with other materials. Since the book includes so little example material, I have gotten good results when I've paired it with the Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language, which is a wonderful source of illustrations and specifics. (Students can buy both books and still come out cheaper than if they had bought just one of the really miserable introductory texts that are in common use.) It has some good exercises in it, but I've found that the instructions need explaining, because for some reason, even though they seem clear, my students find them confusing.
In general, I liked this book very much, as did my students, but there is one very serious defect, which the instructor must address. The typesetter chose to use a sans serif font for phonetic transcription, and the result of this is that the character for a high front lax vowel is indistinguishable from /l/. This is very confusing for the students, but I've found that making up my own vowel and consonant charts as a handout has remedied the problem. I hope this is fixed in the next edition.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By T. Hooper on July 5, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a good basic introduction to the field of Linguistics. Most of the subfields of Linguistics are covered. Of particular interest are the chapters on second-language acquisition and dialects. As a language teacher, I found that by reading this book, I could understand a little more about how to explain the language I teach. If you teach, it really helps to understand the basic building blocks of a language. As I mentioned, this is an introductory level book, but the great thing about it is that it provides a reading list for each subfield, so you can easily find a lot of books to read in the subfields you're interested in. If you're thinking of studying Linguistics, get this book first to see if it interests you before you commit.
One point of caution--this book tries to present the field of Linguistics from the viewpoint of the development of the field. In reviewing the history of Linguistics for each subfield, the book covers some theories that have been disproven or are currently out of fashion. Be careful to read this critically.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 6, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book certainly doesn't confuse the student with too many messy details, but it's good for a general idea of what linguistics are about. The introductory passages for the seperate chapters were well chosen for their diversity and humor, though they weren't always very illustrative as far as the subject in the chapter goes. This book is required reading for all Students of English at my University in Germany, but it is not intended for study in greater depth.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book covers every part of the language study, and one can get introductory concepts and knowledge of language and its study. In this respect, this can be used as a textbook for undergraduate classes and as an introductory book for general. It doesn't have any chapter to skip, and is not too lengthy. I have chosen this book for my students in the Introduction to Language classes.
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