What Is This Thing Called Language?

What Is This Thing Called Language?

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Written by eminent linguist David Nunan, this concise text immerses readers in the complex, curious and continually evolving phenomenon that is at the centre of everything we do: language. It can be fascinating, puzzling and entertaining - and sometimes all of these at the same time. Featuring entertaining anecdotes and interesting examples throughout, this book introduces readers to the foundations of language, namely its sounds, words and grammar, before illustrating how language is used in different ways in a variety of contexts. Fully updated and revised for the second edition, it covers a wide range of topics, including language variation and culture, second language acquisition and bilingualism.

Students, teachers and non-specialists alike will enjoy this engaging and `un-put-down-able' introduction to language and linguistics. Assuming no prior knowledge of applied or theoretical linguistics, it will appeal to anyone with an interest in language.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 272 pages
  • 155 x 235 x 15.24mm | 350g
  • Red Globe Press
  • United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised
  • 2nd ed. 2012
  • 4 Illustrations, black and white; 272 p. 4 illus.
  • 0230291376
  • 9780230291379
  • 499,447

Back cover copy

Language is a complex and ever-evolving phenomenon, but it is one that deeply defines us all. So, What Is This Thing Called Language? Illustrating how it is used in different ways and in varied contexts, this book offers a thought-provoking and entertaining guide through the mysteries of language. The new edition: - Explores the basics of the language systems of sounds, vocabulary and grammar- Explains a basic framework of linguistics and language analysis Examines the written and spoken word in a range of different languages- Uses intriguing anecdotes and interesting examples to unpack complex ideas- Offers study-friendly features, including reflective questions, further reading suggestions as well as glossaries of linguistic terminology and key linguistsWith new and expanded material on a range of topics, from language variation and culture to second language acquisition and bilingualism, this is an 'un-put-down-able' introduction for all students of language and linguistics.
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Table of contents

List of Tables and Figures.- Preface.- Acknowledgements.- Introduction to the First Edition: The Stuff that Surrounds Us.- Introduction to the Second Edition: A Personal Account.- What is this Thing Called Language?.- The Sound System.- The Lexical System.- The Grammatical System.- Doing Things with Spoken Language.- Doing Things with Written Language.- First and Second Language Acquisition.- Language at Play.- Language, Culture and Identity.- Language in a Global Context.- Postscript.- Books to Read on a Long Plane Flight.- Key Figures.- Glossary.- References.- Author Index.- Subject Index.
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Review quote

'Rich in insight, wonderful examples, very readable, brilliantly analytical, simultaneously amusing and highly serious, accessible, humane and aimed directly at anyone interested in knowing more about human language and its study; and, to borrow one of David Nunan's own phrases - one of the most un-put-down-able books I have read.' Professor Ronald Carter, School of English, University of Nottingham, UK. 'This highly readable book is an ideal gift to give anyone who doesn't know much about language but might want to learn. It could be an avenue into the study of linguistics for secondary school and university students, a great introduction to language issues for members of the press and the government, or even a way to explain to non-linguists (your parents, for instance) what it is that linguists do. It is packed with information but is still an enjoyable and entertaining read.' Professor Kathi Bailey, Monterey Institute of International Studies, US
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About David Nunan

DAVID NUNAN is Vice-President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Graduate School of Education, Anaheim University, USA, and Emeritus Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Hong Kong.
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