Language

Linguistics Books

  • DMTR
    Susie Dent
    • £4.99
    • RRP £14.99
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    When a golfer hits a shot that's a bit thin, they refer to it as 'Kate Moss'; refuse collectors call maggots 'disco rice'; and when a flight attendant is carrying out the seatbelt check, they're almost certainly thinking about it as 'crotch watch'...

    Written by Countdown's Susie Dent, this book will help you decipher the different private languages that are used by people all around the country. Unique and witty, it reveals why every football manager speaks the same way, how ticket inspectors discreetly request back up and what a cabbie means when he says the Houses of Parliament.

    Describing how we are surrounded by hundreds of tribes who all speak their own 'slanguage', this is an idiosyncratic phrasebook that reveals why different groups speak in such different ways.
  • ACCA
    Caroline Taggart
    • £3.99
    • RRP £9.99
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    In Roman times, blocks of text were commonly written as blocks without any wordspaces. During the Christian era, texts became more widely read and punctuation started to take on extra importance... This book finds Sunday Times bestselling author Caroline Taggart pointing out what really matters and what doesn't.

    She explains how, to a potential murderer or adulterer for example, there is a world of difference between 'If you are tempted, yield not, resisting the urge to commit a sin' and 'If you are tempted, yield, not resisting the urge to commit a sin'. However, the only surface difference is the positioning of a comma.

    Apostrophes are there to help and to clarify meaning, to convey emphasis and to indicate that you are asking a question of quoting someone else's words... Punctuation is also ideal for telling readers when they should pause for breath.

    This book also contains funny, silly and daft examples of misuse.
  • HSRC
    Hubert Van den Bergh
    • £3.99
    • RRP £9.99
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    Condign - (of punishment or retribution) appropriate to the crime or wrongdoing; fitting and deserved.
    Agitprop- political (originally communist) propaganda, especially in art or literature.

    How to Sound Really Clever is a book with definitions for over 600 words that can mystify and outfox even the smartest person, including 'Zelig-like' (one who unconsciously mimics the traits or appearances of those with whom they associate). The sequel to 2010's bestseller How to Sound Clever, it explains a variety of words you ought to know but have never looked up in the description.

    Complemented by anecdotes and witty illustrations, each entry has a description and example phrases so you can see it used in the correct context. This book is great for boosting your vocabulary.
  • GHAW
    Andrew Taylor
    • £3.99
    • RRP £9.99
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    It's always surprising just how many feelings and concepts that we British just don't have the words for. This gift book shows how other languages don't have this oversight.

    From the vague desire to be far away to that feeling of euphoria at the start of a love affair (forelsket - thanks, Norway), this book has words you can use in everyday life from other countries to sum up your thoughts.

    Part glossary, part amusing musings, with Andrew Taylor's The Greeks Had a Word For It, you'll never be lost for words again.
  • ADXGO
    RL Trask
    • £6.89
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    Covering thinkers from Aristotle to Saussure and Chomsky, "Introducing Linguistics" reveals the rules and beauty that underlie language, our most human skill.
  • AADPG
    Bill Bryson
    • £8.19
    • RRP £9.99
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    'More than 300 million people in the world speak English and the rest, it sometimes seems, try to...' Only Bill Bryson could make a book about the English language so entertaining. With his boundless enthusiasm and restless eye for the absurd, this is his astonishing tour of English. From its mongrel origins to its status as the world's most-spoken tongue; its apparent simplicity to its deceptive complexity; its vibrant swearing to its uncertain spelling and pronunciation, Bryson covers all this as well as the many curious eccentricities that make it as maddening to learn as it is flexible to use. Bill Bryson's classic "Mother Tongue" is a highly readable and hilarious tale of how English came to be the world's language.
  • AKYZC
    Chloe Rhodes
    • £7.99
    • RRP £9.99
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    Why are geese in a gaggle? Are crows really murderous? And what makes lions so proud? Collective nouns are one of the most charming oddities of the English language, often with seemingly bizarre connections to the groups they identify. But have you ever stopped to wonder where these peculiar terms actually came from? Most of those found in this book have their origins in the Medieval Books of Courtesy, among the earliest works to be published in this country. Despite originating as a form of social etiquette reserved for the gentry, many of these collective nouns have survived to become a curious feature of today's everyday language. This absorbing book tells the stories of these evocative phrases, many of which have stood the test of time and are still in use today. Entertaining, informative and fascinating, An Unkindness of Ravens is perfect for any history or language buff.
  • ACOXH
    Henry Hitchings
    • £10.89
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    The English language is a battlefield. Since the age of Shakespeare, arguments over correct usage have been acrimonious, and those involved have always really been contesting values - to do with morality, politics and class. THE LANGUAGE WARS examines the present state of the conflict, its history and its future. Above all, it uses the past as a way of illuminating the present. Moving chronologically, the book explores the most persistent issues to do with English and unpacks the history of 'proper' usage. Where did these ideas spring from? Which of today's bugbears and annoyances are actually venerable? Who has been on the front line in the language wars? THE LANGUAGE WARS examines grammar rules, regional accents, swearing, spelling, dictionaries, political correctness, and the role of electronic media in reshaping language. It also takes a look at such niggling concerns as the split infinitive, elocution and text messaging. Peopled with intriguing characters such as Jonathan Swift, H. W. Fowler and George Orwell as well as the more disparate figures of Lewis Carroll, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Lenny Bruce, THE LANGUAGE WARS is an essential volume for anyone interested in the state of the English language today or intrigued about its future.
  • AHIWD
    • £10.89
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    Where did the words bungalow and assassin derive? What did nice mean in the Middle Ages? How were adder, anger, and umpire originally spelt? The answers can be found in this essential companion to any popular dictionary. With over 17,000 entries, this is the most authoritative and comprehensive guide to word origins available in paperback. Based on The Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology, the principal authority on the origin and development of English words, it contains a wealth of information about our language and its history.
  • AAWPY
    Guy Deutscher
    • £9.49
    • RRP £9.99
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    'Guy Deutscher is that rare beast, an academic who talks good sense about linguistics...he argues in a playful and provocative way, that our mother tongue does indeed affect how we think and, just as important, how we perceive the world' - "Observer". Does language reflect the culture of a society? Is our mother-tongue a lens through which we perceive the world? Can different languages lead their speakers to different thoughts? In "Through the Language Glass", acclaimed author Guy Deutscher will convince you that, contrary to the fashionable academic consensus of today, the answer to all these questions is - yes. A delightful amalgam of cultural history and popular science, this book explores some of the most fascinating and controversial questions about language, culture and the human mind.
  • ACOWN
    John Maher
    • £7.99

    John Maher's Introducing Chomsky: A Graphic Guide traces Chomsky's understanding of the cognitive realities involved in the use of language - and the technical apparatus needed to represent it. The sometimes complex theories are explained in a clear manner through Judy Groves' brilliant illustrations. A great introduction to the man sometimes described as the 'father of modern linguistics'.

  • ADCYO
    David Crystal
    • £12.99
    When and why did 'thou' disappear from Standard English? Would a Victorian Cockney have said 'observation' or 'hobservation'? Was Jane Austen making a mistake when she wrote 'Jenny and James are walked to Charmonth this afternoon'? This superbly well-informed - and also wonderfully entertaining - history of the English language answers all these questions, showing how the many strands of English (Standard English, dialect and slang among them) developed to create the richly-varied language of today.
  • AHIMJ
    John Ayto
    • £9.89
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    Did you know that 'flavour of the month' originated in a marketing campaign in American ice-cream parlours in the 1940s, when a particular flavour would be specially promoted for a month at a time? And did you know that 'off the cuff' refers to the rather messy practice of writing impromptu notes on one's shirt cuff before speaking in public? These and many more idioms are explained and put into context in this third edition of the Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. The volume takes a fresh look at the idiomatic phrases and sayings that make English the rich and intriguing language that it is. This major new edition contains entries for over 6,000 idioms, including 700 entirely new entries, based on Oxford's language monitoring and the ongoing third edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. These include a range of recently established idioms such as 'the elephant in the corner', 'go figure', 'like a rat up a drainpipe', 'sex on legs', 'step up to the plate', 'too posh to push', 'a walk in the park', 'win ugly'. This edition also features a greatly increased number of cross-references, making it ideal for quick reference. Many entries include additional features which give more detailed background on the idiom in question. For example, did you know that 'taken aback' was adopted from nautical terminology that described a ship unable to move forward because of a strong headwind pressing its sails back against the mast? Anyone interested in the colourful side of the English language will get hours of fun browsing from this fascinating and informative volume.
  • AGJEJ
    Judy Parkinson
    • £5.59
    • RRP £6.99
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    How on earth did 'with bells on' come to express enthusiasm? What do chips on shoulders have to do with inferiority complexes? And who is the face that launched a thousand ships? Did you know that 'the rule of thumb' refers to the use of the thumb to make measurements, as the first joint of the average adult thumb measures one inch? "Spilling the Beans on the Cat's Pyjamas" provides us with the meanings of these well-worn and much-loved phrases by putting these linguistic quirks in context, and explaining how and why they were first used. Absorbing, diverting and fascinating - as far as gift books go, "Spilling the Beans" really is the bee's knees!
  • AFBDY
    Katherine Fry
    • £12.89
    • RRP £12.99
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    Agitated about apostrophes? Struggling with spelling? Dithering over dangling participles? Stumped by the subjunctive? Relax. Help is at hand...For native English speakers who realise that there is more to good English than meets the eye, but don't know where to start; for parents struggling to explain the finer details to their kids; and for English- language students everywhere ...this is the only book you need. "Grammar for Grown-Ups" guides you through the perils, pitfalls and problematic aspects of the English language, with fun test-yourself sections all the way.
  • AHHEI
    PH Matthews
    • £6.39
    • RRP £7.99
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    Linguistics falls in the gap between arts and science, on the edges of which the most fascinating discoveries and the most important problems are found. Rather than following the conventional organization of many contemporary introductions to the subject, the author of this stimulating guide begins his discussion with the oldest, 'arts' end of the subject and moves chronologically through to the newest research - the 'science' aspects. A series of short thematic chapters look in turn at such areas as the prehistory of languages and their common origins, language and evolution, language in time and space (the nature of change inherent in language), grammars and dictionaries (how systematic is language?), and phonetics. Explication of the newest discoveries pertaining to language in the brain completes the coverage of all major aspects of linguistics from a refreshing and insightful angle. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
  • ADBPF
    David Crystal
    • £10.39
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    In this fascinating survey of everything from how sounds become speech to how names work, David Crystal answers every question you might ever have had about the nuts and bolts of language in his usual highly illuminating way. Along the way, we find out about eyebrow flashes, whistling languages, how parents teach their children to speak, how politeness travels across languages and how the way we talk show not just how old we are but where we're from and even who we want to be.
  • ANJHU
    Ben Crystal
    • £8.49
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    Some people say scohn, while others say schown. He says bath, while she says bahth. You say potayto. I say potahto And- -wait a second, no one says potahto. No one's ever said potahto. Have they? From reconstructing Shakespeare's accent to the rise and fall of Received Pronunciation, actor Ben Crystal and his linguist father David travel the world in search of the stories of spoken English. Everyone has an accent, though many of us think we don't. We all have our likes and dislikes about the way other people speak, and everyone has something to say about 'correct' pronunciation. But how did all these accents come about, and why do people feel so strongly about them? Are regional accents dying out as English becomes a global language? And most importantly of all: what went wrong in Birmingham? Witty, authoritative and jam-packed full of fascinating facts, You Say Potato is a celebration of the myriad ways in which the English language is spoken - and how our accents, in so many ways, speak louder than words.
  • ACLXQ
    Craig Shrives
    • £10.39
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    If you've reached a position that requires you to bash out high-quality letters and reports, then "Grammar Rules" is a must for your top drawer. Straight talking and methodical, Craig Shrives draws on his experience as a through-the-ranks officer in the British Intelligence Corps to present a wonderfully light-hearted and easily digestible book. Suitable for Brits and Americans, this comprehensive grammar-reference book offers well-crafted 'grammar lite' explanations as well as hundreds of tips and workarounds. But, if you want to soak yourself in English grammar, it allows you to do that too. "Grammar Rules" is packed with real-life examples and keeps you engaged with a wealth of great quotations from Homer (the Greek) to Homer (the Simpson).
  • ADESS
    Jean Atchison
    • £12.89
    • RRP £14.99
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    Is this the right book for me? This classic book is a straightforward introduction to linguistics which attempts to answer two fundamental questions: 'What is language?' and 'How does language work?' It outlines the scope of linguistics, explaining basic concepts and essential terminology with examples drawn mainly from English. Sound patterning, syntax and meaning - the inner core of linguistics - are discussed simply and clearly, as are the rapidly growing areas of pragmatics, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics and stylistics. You will find this contemporary, easy-to-read book essential to broadening your understanding of the subtleties and power of language. Learn effortlessly with easy-to-read page design and interactive features: Not got much time? One, five and ten-minute introductions to key principles to get you started. Author insights Lots of instant help with common problems and quick tips for success, based on the author's many years of experience. Test yourself Tests in the book and online to keep track of your progress. Extend your knowledge Extra online articles to give you a richer understanding of linguistics. Five things to remember Quick refreshers to help you remember the key facts. Try this Innovative exercises illustrate what you've learnt and how to use it.
  • AIMWS
    • £12.29
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    Written by David Hornsby, who is a current Linguistics lecturer and researcher at the University of Kent, Linguistics - The Essentials is designed to give you everything you need to succeed, all in one place. It covers the key areas that students are expected to be confident in, outlining the basics in clear jargon-free English, and then providing added value features like summaries of key books, and even lists of questions you might be asked in your seminar or exam. The book uses a structure that mirrors many university courses on linguistics - with separate chapters focusing on linguistic thought, syntax, sound systems, morphology, semantics, pragmatics, language acquisition, and much more.
  • AHBJM
    John Edwards
    • £7.89
    • RRP £7.99
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    This Very Short Introduction deals with the social life of language: language in its sociocultural context. The field ranges from micro-analyses to broadly-based policy and planning undertakings. As such, this book draws from sociolinguistics, the sociology of language, and psycholinguistics. The relationship between language and identity - whether of an individual or a group - is a strong thread linking all the topics covered in the book. The "ordinary," instrumental, communicative aspects of language cannot be adequately understood without paying attention to the "symbolic" features that powerfully underpin feelings and attributions of "groupness" and "belonging." The book therefore focuses more on macro sociological areas than to fine-grained analyses of variation in linguistic features (though the latter are not ignored). Edwards explains the differential social evaluations of languages and dialects, how names (and naming) are much more than simple designations, why some languages come to dominate others, as well as questions about the relationship between language and gender, sexist language, the language of poverty, the intertwining of language and religion, and politically driven language planning and policy. These matters have always been timely and of great social interest. The book demonstrates the connections and continuities that exist within the language arena in which we all participate, and about which all of us have opinions, preferences and prejudices. This is the first short treatment that acquaints the educated non-specialist with the social life of language.
  • AHEOS
    N.M. Gwynne
    • £7.89
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    'Grammar is the science of using words rightly, leading to thinking rightly, leading to deciding rightly, without which - as both common sense and experience show - happiness is impossible. Therefore: happiness depends at least partly on good grammar.' So writes Mr Gwynne in his small, but perfectly formed new book. Mr Gwynne believes passionately that we must regain our knowledge of the lost science of grammar before it is too late. Formerly a successful businessman, Mr Gwynne has for many years been teaching and tutoring just about every sort of subject to just about every sort of pupil in just about every sort of circumstance. His teaching methods are very much the traditional, common-sense ones, refined over the centuries, that were almost everywhere until they were abolished in the 1960s. Being disappointed in the standards of grammar he encountered in his pupils, Mr Gwynne, over time, wrote this wonderful, succinct and yet comprehensive little book - because nothing quite as suitable already existed. This edition also includes Strunk's classic guide to style, explaining how to write well and the main pitfalls to avoid. Beautifully designed, easy to understand and a joy to read, "Gwynne's Grammar" may be the best little book you will ever have in your life.
  • AHINH
    David Crystal
    • £7.99
    • RRP £9.99
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    Words, Words, Words is all about the wonder of words. Drawing on a lifetime's experience, David Crystal explores language in all its rich varieties through words: the very building blocks of our communication. Language has no life of its own: it only exists in the mouths and ears, hands, eyes and brains of its users. As we are guided expertly and passionately through the mysteries and delights of word origins, histories, spellings, regional and social variations, taboo words, jargon, and wordplay, the contribution we all play in shaping the linguistic world around us becomes evident. Words, Words, Words is a celebration of what we say and how we say it. It invites us to engage linguistically with who we are: to understand what words tell us about where we come from and what we do. And as they continually shape our lives, it suggests ways that we can look at words anew and get involved with collecting and coining words ourselves.