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Chapter 13 introduces second language acquisition, the acquisition of non-native grammars, by comparing it to first language acquisition (Chapter 12). The strong interdisciplinary nature of second language acquisition informs this chapter in all areas, including how it links to other branches of linguistics, cognitive psychology, sociolinguistics, education, etc. The chapter introduces readers to key concepts such as interlanguage and transfer from the first language. As in Chapter 12 First language acquisition, this chapter follows the development of the second language sound system, morphology, and syntax. The chapter compares and analyzes different theoretical approaches such as markedness theory, generative approaches (Universal Grammar), the monitor model, sociocultural theory, processability theory, and cognitive models such as the competition model. It examines important factors that may affect the course of second language acquisition such as: the role of age; gender; learning styles such as field dependency or independence; aptitude; motivation; and working memory. It also explores different learning contexts and approaches such as immersion and task-based learning.
Chapter 11 focuses on one of the most important events of the last 5,000 years: the development of writing. Writing is defined as a system of more or less permanent marks used to represent an utterance in such a way that it can be recovered more or less the same way without intervention. Writing is distinguished from ideograms that represent things or concepts directly. Readers are introduced to alphabets in which, though imperfectly, each letter represents one sound, syllabaries which represent the syllable, abjads, in which, typically, only consonants are written, and abujidas, in which each consonant is represented with a basic vowel. The chapter includes examples for each type of writing from many different languages. The history of writing is summarized, from its beginnings in Mesopotamia, China, and Mesoamerica, to modern day writing in different parts of the world. Each new concept introduced is amply illustrated with images from different types of writing systems, and readers are encouraged to try to understand how reading should proceed in each case.
Chapter 15 looks at the brain’s anatomy in terms of the areas important for language. It shows that, typically, the left hemisphere is widely responsible for language competence and performance. Readers learn about common methods and technologies used to study the brain, including lesion studies and autopsies, dichotic listening and split-brain studies, neuroimaging, and studies measuring the brain’s electric and magnetic fields. These methods have provided an incredible advantage to better understanding brain and language. This is especially apparent regarding language impairments that result from acquired brain damage or injury (either instantaneous or progressive). Some impairments discussed in the chapter include forms of aphasia: non-fluent, fluent, and primary progressive along with language disturbances primarily related to reading (e.g., alexia) and writing (e.g., agraphia) abilities. Finally, the chapter discusses how neurolinguistics informs what we know about the mental lexicon—words, their sounds, and meanings—along with morphology and syntax. Research using state-of-the-art technologies has informed us about which language functions rely on which brain structures.
Everything we do involves language. Assuming no prior knowledge, this book offers students a contemporary introduction to the study of language. Each thought-provoking chapter is accessible to readers from a variety of fields, and is helpfully organized across six parts: sound; structure and meaning; language typologies and change; language and social aspects; language acquisition; and language, cognition, and the brain. The book's companion website also offers three brief chapters on language and computers; animal communication; and dialectal varieties of English. The chapters feature illustrative tables, figures and maps, along with three types of pedagogical boxes (Linguistic Tidbits; Pause and Reflect; and Eyes on World Languages) that break up text, contextualize information, and provide colourful accents that give real data from languages across the globe. Key words are bolded and defined in a glossary at the end of the book, while end-of-chapter summaries and practice exercises reinforce the key points discussed.
Chapter 1 presents key concepts that are not only of general interest but are useful in understanding subsequent chapters. Although many people place linguistics as foundational for the humanities, we show that it is also a science that develops theories and hypotheses that are rigorously tested. As is typical in scientific inquiry, linguistics seeks to describe and explain an object of study, in our case, language. The chapter also examines how human language differs from other systems of communication, such as animal cries or some visual images. An important component of the chapter distinguishes two main approaches to the study of language: the generativist approach according to which language is constrained by universal principles that are innate, and a more functionalist approach that considers language to be acquired solely on the basis of input. For both functionalist and generativists, input is essential to acquisition. These approaches can be seen in action throughout the book and both are equally important to the field of linguistics. The chapter ends by pointing to different fields that engage with professional linguists, from translation studies to computer science.
Chapter 14 explores how language is processed. In sound processing, we use auditory information in the speech signal to extract and process linguistic input. Motor theory states that we also use our knowledge of sound articulation and reading lips to comprehend speech. Two important models that explain sound processing and lexical access are the TRACE model and cohort model. The chapter examines the mental lexicon and lexical access during word processing and identifies factors that may affect the recognition of words such as frequency, ambiguity, when it was last accessed, and its sound environment. The chapter also studies sentence processing, that is, assigning structure to a sentence or phrase. Readers are introduced to different data collection techniques including naturalistic methods such as analyzing speech errors. Other experimental methods examined include self-paced reading tasks and eye tracking. The chapter illustrates how these recent methodologies contribute to our understanding of issues such as the role of working memory and long-term memory in language processing; serial and parallel processing; single- and dual-route processing; and connectionist approaches.
Chapter 12 focuses on the development of language among infants and children. It follows the infant’s productions from first cries to the development of the complete phonology of native language(s). The chapter examines the acquisition of words and their meaning and shows how, across languages, certain content words are acquired before others. Children’s morphological development is amply illustrated. Overgeneralizations are shown to be part of the acquisition of a rule-based morphology, as shown in the classic “wug test.” Syntactic development is considered in depth, from the one word and two-word stages to the production of adult-like negatives and interrogatives. Differences between languages, particularly in the area of functional categories such as inflection, are shown to affect variations in the rate of acquisition. The reader is guided through the development of conversational and pragmatic skills. The chapter explores the role of different factors in acquisition, both internal, such as innate principles and general cognition, and external, such as input and experience. The chapter ends with a presentation of atypical language development and bilingualism.