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Are you looking for a genuine introduction to the linguistics of English that provides a broad overview of the subject that sustains students' interest and avoids excessive detail? Introducing English Linguistics accomplishes this goal in two ways. First, it takes a top-down approach to language, beginning with the largest unit of linguistic structure, the text, and working its way down through successively smaller structures (sentences, words, and finally speech sounds). The advantage of presenting language this way is that students are first given the larger picture - they study language in context - and then see how the smaller pieces of language are a consequence of the larger goals of linguistic communication. Second, the book does not contain invented examples, as is the case with most comparable texts, but instead takes its sample materials from the major computerised databases of spoken and written English, giving students a more realistic view of language.
English is currently the most widely spoken language in the world. Mandarin Chinese may have more speakers, but no language is spoken in more parts of the world than the English language. The global reach of English is one reason the language has more non-native speakers than native speakers. The popularity of English, it must be emphasized, has little to do with the language itself, and more to do with geopolitical considerations: the initial spread of English worldwide as a consequence of British colonization, and the rise in the twentieth century of the United States as an economic and political power in the world.
Because of the importance of English as a world language, it has been widely studied and taught: English has been the focus of many linguistic descriptions, and it is taught worldwide in thousands of classrooms and language institutes. In fact, more people are learning English from non-native speakers of the language than native speakers. For this reason (and many others), it is important that teachers of English as well as others having an interest in the structure and use of the language have an adequate understanding of the language. This book attempts to provide such an understanding, but it does so in a manner that is different from many other introductions to the English language.
Because language involves not just individual sentences but sentences that are parts of texts, the book is organized on the principle that an adequate introduction to the study of the English language requires a top-down rather than a bottom-up discussion of the structure of English.