Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


Review: Teach Yourself Linguistics

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is Waxing Gibbous

I’ve just finished Teach Yourself Linguistics, by Jean Aitchison.

This is one of the best non-fiction, technical, non-computer books that I’ve ever read. I tried reading an introductory linguistics textbook last year and almost suffered an aneurysm as a result! But, this was actually a pleasure to read. It’s a really good introduction to the basics of linguistics. It starts out talking about language in general, covers a bit of linguistic history and then digs into the meat of what linguistics is all about. One of the really nice things about this book is that it assumes the reader knows nothing about linguistics. Then, it starts gently building up the reader’s vocabulary and basic knowlege of linguistic theory and practice. Most importantly, for me, is that it saved the really complicated topics, like Universal Grammar and Translational Grammar and all things Chomsky, for the last bit of the book. That textbook started out there and just got worse. So, finally, I feel like I have the basics of linguistics down well enough to actually talk about it with someone. And, I think I have a good enough grasp of the basics to start working on a decent conlang.

This book was so good that I looked at Ms. Aitchison’s other work. I found another linguistics book that looked interesting, Language Change : Progress or Decay?. It covers historical linguistics, which is of interest to me in relation to conlangs and world building. I have some other books to read first, but I know I’ll eventually get around to this one. I hope it’s written in the same style as Teach Yourself Linguistics. I’d love to have a book on historical linguistics that’s actually readable.

Well, I’m off to pick my next book to read and invent a language.
Stay tuned for more!

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