Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

Applied linguistics

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Very Short Introductions

The English Language: A Very Short Introduction

The English language is spoken by more than a billion people throughout the world. But where did English come from? And how has it evolved into the language used today? This short reading investigates how we have arrived at the English we know today, and celebrates the way new speakers and new uses mean that it continues to adapt. Engaging with contemporary concerns about correctness, it considers whether such changes are improvements, or evidence of slipping standards. What is the future for the English language? Will Standard English continue to hold sway, or we are witnessing its replacement by newly emerging Englishes?

Multilingualism: A Very Short Introduction

Multilingualism—language diversity in society—is a perfect expression of human plurality. About 6,500–7,000 languages are spoken, written, and signed, throughout the linguistic landscape of the world, by people who communicate in more than one language. Languages are instruments for interacting with the cultural environment and their ecology is complex. This short reading shows how multilingualism offers cultural diversity and complex identities, and plays a part in issues of nationalism and regional rights. It considers multilingualism in the context of globalization and the fate of many endangered languages as they disappear from the world. Why do some languages thrive, but others decline?

Slang: A Very Short Introduction

Slang, however one judges it, shows us at our most human. It is used widely and often, typically associated with the writers of noir fiction, teenagers, and rappers, but also found in the works of Shakespeare and Dickens. It has been recorded since at least 1500 AD, and today’s vocabulary, taken from every major English-speaking country, runs to over 125,000 slang words and phrases. This short reading explores this fascinating subset of the English language. It considers the meaning and origins of the word ‘slang’ itself, the ideas that make a word ‘slang’, the long-running themes that run through slang, and the history of slang’s many dictionaries.

Sociolinguistics: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading deals with the social life of language: language in its sociocultural context. It draws from sociolinguistics, the sociology of language, and psycholinguistics. It explains the differential social evaluations of languages and dialects, how names (and naming) are much more than simple designations, and why some languages come to dominate others. It also explores the relationship between language and gender, sexist language, the language of poverty, the intertwining of language and religion, and politically driven language planning and policy. It demonstrates the connections and continuities that exist within the language arena in which we all participate.