Linguistics - Why It Matters
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Language is the medium in which we humans compose our thoughts, explain our thinking, construct our arguments, and create works of literature. Without language, societies as complex as ours could not exist.
Geoffrey Pullum offers a stimulating introduction to the many ways in which linguistics, as the scientific study of language, matters. With its close relationships to psychology, education, philosophy, and computer science, the subject has a compelling human story to tell about the ways in which different societies see and describe the world, and its far-reaching applications range from law to medicine and from developmental psychology to artificial intelligence.
Introducing Polity's Why It Matters series: In these short and lively books, world-leading thinkers make the case for the importance of their subjects and aim to inspire a new generation of students.
Geoff Pullum has been interested in linguistics ever since he discovered that there was such a subject. He gave up his job (he was a professional rock musician) and has been studying language ever since. He is currently Professor of General Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh, and formerly worked at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts, a Fellow of the Linguistic Society of America, and a Fellow of the British Academy. He regularly contributes popular articles on language and writing to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Though he has published very widely in many subfields of linguistics, his best-known work is probably The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language (2002), a massive reference grammar co-authored with Rodney Huddleston. It won the Leonard Bloomfield Book Award from the Linguistic Society of America in 2004.
Chapter 1: What Makes Us Human
Chapter 2: How Sentences Work
Chapter 3: Words, Meaning and Thought
Chapter 4: Language and Social Life
Chapter 5: Machines That Understand Us
Notes on Further Reading