Linguistics and Applied Linguistics


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Very Short Introductions

Linguistics: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading considers a subject that falls in the gap between arts and science, on the edges of which fascinating discoveries and important problems are found. Beginning with the oldest, ‘arts’ end of the subject, it moves chronologically through to the newest research — the ‘science’ aspects. Themes included are: the prehistory of languages and their common origins; language and evolution; language in time and space (the nature of change inherent in language) grammars and dictionaries (how systematic is language?) and phonetics. Explication of the newest discoveries relating to language in the brain completes the coverage of major aspects of linguistics.

Languages: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading addresses questions such as: How many languages are there? What differentiates one language from another? Are new languages still being discovered? Why are so many languages disappearing? Considering a wide range of different languages and linguistic examples, this reading demonstrates that, just as some places are more diverse than others in terms of plants and animal species, the same is true of the distribution of languages. Exploring the basis for linguistic classification and raising questions about how we identify a language, it examines the wider social issues of losing languages, and their impact in terms of the endangerment of cultures and peoples.

Writing and Script: A Very Short Introduction

This short reading explains how early forms of writing developed into hundreds of scripts including the Roman alphabet and Chinese characters. Without writing, there would be no records, no history, no books, and no emails. Writing is an integral and essential part of our lives; but when did it start? Why do we each write differently and how did writing develop into what we use today? We began to write five thousand years ago, with cuneiform and Egyptian hieroglyphs. To what extent do the modern writing symbols and abbreviations we take for granted today, such as airport signage and text messaging, resemble ancient ones?