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Language Change
Progress or Decay?

4th Edition


Part of Cambridge Approaches to Linguistics

  • Date Published: December 2012
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107023628

£ 66.99

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About the Authors
  • How and why do languages change? Where does the evidence of language change come from? How do languages begin and end? This introduction to language change explores these and other questions, considering changes through time. The central theme of this book is whether language change is a symptom of progress or decay. This book will show you why it is neither, and that understanding the factors surrounding how language change occurs is essential to understanding why it happens. This updated edition remains non-technical and accessible to readers with no previous knowledge of linguistics.

    • Improved learning features, including introductions outlining the topics to be covered and questions and essay suggestions for students to practise what they have learnt and test their understanding
    • Includes new sections on text messaging and netspeak, as well as extra information about the complaints tradition, polysemy (multiple meanings) and language death
    • Updated references for those who want to read more of the latest research
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Jean Aitchison's Language Change: Progress or Decay? has been essential introductory reading for students of historical linguistics for many years: it manages the rare trick of combining theoretical sophistication and clear, simple (but not simplistic) expression. This new edition, which takes account of current issues in language-change studies while not discarding classic discussions, remains a fine and very approachable survey. I shall certainly recommend it to my undergraduates.' Jeremy J. Smith, University of Glasgow

    'A brilliant essay in linguistics … Even in the most complex spaghetti junctions of her argument, her own directions are always clear, and her own language lively, fresh and stimulating.' The Guardian

    '… captivating and highly readable … linguistic phenomena are lucidly explained, often through the use of analogy, graphics and clear examples taken from a range of different languages. A new and welcome addition to this fourth edition are the questions placed at the end of the book - three for each chapter - which help readers to test their understanding of the main points.' Ilse Wischer, translated from Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik

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    Product details

    • Edition: 4th Edition
    • Date Published: December 2012
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107023628
    • length: 308 pages
    • dimensions: 205 x 132 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 37 b/w illus. 2 tables
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Preliminaries:
    1. The ever-whirling wheel
    2. Collecting up clues
    3. Charting the changes
    Part II. Transition:
    4. Spreading the word
    5. Conflicting loyalties
    6. Catching on and taking off
    7. Caught in the web
    8. The wheels of language
    9. Spinning away
    Part III. Causation:
    10. The reason why
    11. Doing what comes naturally
    12. Repairing the patterns
    13. Pushing and pulling
    Part IV. Beginnings and Endings:
    14. Language birth
    15. Language death
    16. Progress or decay?

  • Instructors have used or reviewed this title for the following courses

    • History of the Romance Language
    • Intro to Historical and Comparative Linguistics
  • Author

    Jean Aitchison, University of Oxford
    After many years lecturing with the University of London (at the London School of Economics and Political Science), Jean Aitchison was Professor of Language and Communication at the University of Oxford (1993–2003) and is now an Emeritus Professor. She is the author of a number of books on language, including The Language Web (Cambridge University Press, 1997).

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