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Review of Introduction to linguistics from a global perspective

posted February 3rd, 2012

Introduction to linguistics from a global perspective: An alternative approach to language and languages. By Joachim Grzega. (LINCOM coursebooks in linguistics 19.) Munich: LINCOM Europa, 2011. Pp. 248, ISBN 9783862880669. $83.

Reviewed by Josep Soler-Carbonell, University of Oxford

Pedagogically oriented, this book is a useful tool for both teachers and students of general and introductory courses to linguistics. It contains eleven chapters, with each of the first ten dealing with a particular branch of linguistics, and the eleventh containing a special summary focusing on Eurolinguistics. The first chapter is preceded by a preface, a table of contents, and preliminary remarks on how to use the book, with clear explanations of what to find in each chapter and how to most effectively use its contents. The book concludes with two indexes: an index of names that lists all of the linguists mentioned in the book, and an index of technical terms.

Ch. 1 is dedicated to the field of semiotics, Ch. 2 to lexicology, Ch. 3 to phonology, Ch. 4 to morphology and syntax, Ch. 5 to pragmatics and text linguistics, Ch. 6 to non-verbal communication, Ch. 7 to psycholinguistics, Ch. 8 to sociolinguistics and the sociology of languages, Ch. 9 to historical linguistics, and Ch. 10 to the history of linguistics. Ch. 11 underlines and gathers the most important aspects mentioned throughout the book that hold a close relation with the languages of Europe, and responds to the spread and rise of  ‘European studies’ programs.

The material in each of the chapters is neatly presented, with tangible and illustrative examples. It is clear from reported class results and comments that the material has been tested and improved empirically, which necessarily has a positive impact in the final result. Although the work of relevant linguistic anthropologists is discussed throughout the text, such as Franz Boas, Edward Sapir, Benjamin Lee Whorf, and Dell Hymes, a separate chapter could have been devoted to anthropological linguistics Nevertheless, this do-it-yourself-then-do-it-in-class book, as defined by the author himself, should be positively welcomed by students majoring in linguistics, as well as those who are not, and their tutors, because it is thought-provoking and encourages the learning of the most basic and key linguistic concepts in a friendly manner. In addition to figures, illustrations, and examples, each chapter contains wrap-up riddles for concepts to be more easily memorized, and classroom activities, which are helpful for group discussions of those concepts. All in all, this book is highly recommended for both teachers and students alike.