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A Course in Linguistics

A Course in Linguistics

Martin Lavicka10 Jun 2015Leave a comment


Written by Denisa Shusterová

CHUNG, Raung-fu. A Course in Linguistics. Cosmos Culture Ltd., First Published 2014, 255 p. ISBN 978-986-3181-46-0

The author of the book A Course in Linguistics is Raung-fu Chung, currently Chair professor in the Department of Applied English, Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology. The book was published by Cosmos Culture in 2014. It is written in English, however, some examples in Chinese are used as well.

As the author claims in the preface to the textbook, most linguistic books which have been published so far are written using complicated language. Moreover, most of the language phenomena described in such books is demonstrated on the background of less known languages. This was the essential motivation that led the author to compose the current book.

The publication A Course in Linguistics is a textbook intended for those who would like to learn basic information about the field of linguistics. Apart from the theory of general linguistics, the practice aspect is taken into consideration. The data is based not only on English, but also on Mandarin Chinese and languages of Taiwan.

As concerns the structure and thematic composition of the textbook, it is divided into twelve major chapters. Each of the chapters deals with one of the basic fields of linguistics such as phonetics and phonology, morphology, semantics, etc. The chapters are further segmented into several subheadings. The layout of the publication is rationally designed and well arranged. When necessary the text is provided with illustrations for improved understanding.

Several questions are presented in each chapter in order to help students review and sum up the relevant topic. The book is written in an accessible and comprehensible language style. The author also suggests several problems to take into consideration and thus makes it easier for students to learn new information.

The first chapter introduces the main topics that are presented at a later point in the book, which is primarily focused on language competence and communicative competence or language performance.

The second chapter entitled “Phonetics” provides background for sound segmentation and transcription. The focus is mainly on articulatory phonetics. It primarily introduces speech organs and deals with vowels and consonants.

In the introduction to the third chapter “Phonology”, the author focuses mainly on an explanation of basic phonological terminology. The book describes not only the difference between the two linguistics fields, but also introduces the terminology needed for a better understanding of the problems involved in the mentioned researched areas.

The fourth chapter “Morphology” is concerned with morphological rules; methods of word construction are also introduced in this chapter.

The primary issue explored in the fifth chapter “Syntax” is “Why can children acquire a language in such a short time?” Words’ categories are listed in this chapter as well as types of phrases and their structural rules.

Lexical and compositional meanings are discussed in chapter six “Semantics”. Another focus of this chapter is semantic theories, namely mental image theory, definition and prototype theory, theory of semantics and references, and theory of semantic features.

The seventh chapter “Pragmatics” is apart from pragmatics focused on discourse analysis and also introduces speeches acts and deixis.

“Brain and Language”, the eighth chapter, describes the relationship between language and the brain. The brain’s structure is introduced and the linguistic function of each area of the brain is described. This chapter also touches on issues of aphasia studies.

The aim of the ninth chapter is to describe the research methodology of language acquisition and three language acquisition theories. Second language acquisition is, logically, introduced in the following chapter.

The eleventh chapter is focused on the interdisciplinary field of study – sociolinguistics. This chapter describes, amongst other things, language and dialect, language and gender and language taboo.

The last chapter provides a brief overview of the history of linguistics. This chapter describes language change and comparative linguistics. Illogically, the chapter is placed at the end of the book. I would personally have suggested placing the content of this chapter at the beginning of the publication.

A glossary closes the book.

In the introduction to the textbook the author emphasizes that the book is written for beginner students of linguistics. I would, however, recommend the book to all those who are interested in obtaining a basic knowledge of linguistics, not only students of linguistics.

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