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I only kinda skimmed the thread, but it looks like there are some excellent linguistics people on here! I'm a first year PhD student at the University of Southern California. @Hedvig is right when she says most Americans learn generativist theory. Just today we finished our first semester on Government and Binding/Minimalist Program syntax. I am most interested in pursuing syntax/semantics/pragmatics, but I did a year of field methods during by BA, and would love to work in language documentation as well. USC is also big on "psycholinguistics," which is where the linguists interested in cognitive science work. Hopefully I can convince my professors to look at some more functionalist approches to syntax, but for now I'll be content that there are cool people on the internet.
Question for all:I really want to read a linguistic textbook and work on that. I bought Contemporary Linguistics study guide and plan to just use wikipedia and you guys for the help I need but I don't know if that will be enough.Anybody have recommendations for cheap (free preferably) books I can get? Textbooks are preferable over just random books people have written, ones like Contemporary Linguistics (but not 100 dollars!).Any suggestions?
@Hedvig oh, minimal pairs! My roommate is in an intro to linguistics class and she was pulling her hair out over them! (A friend of mine who studied linguistics explained it to me, and then I gave my roommate her explanation, but it occurs to me that that is probably not the best way to learn something and as a result, I'm still kind of fuzzy!) I feel like I would need a ton more practice to even talk coherently about a lot of things related to phonology, even in my own poking around the subject, I tend to get caught up in morphemes and etymology. Though! you brought up something really interesting, about how people get preoccupied with how people sound "wrong" and then have a tendency to disregard what that person is saying. I was actually sort of itching to talk about grammar and dialect as it relates to sociolinguistics. I've always been really fascinated with "proper" language use as a kind of social currency. The same people who tend to dismiss my mom because of her thick southern accent and non-standard usage listen to me even if I don't even know what I'm talking about, if only because I can play by the rules of "proper" English and have a very "nondescript" accent. It's actually kind of irritating sometimes!
I'm not a linguist, but during the research for a recent video about the development of language I discovered a really great book:Guy Deutscher, The Unfolding of Language, Arrow Books 2006It's a very interesting book, and easy to read even for a layman (or layalien) like me. Its main point is that the mechanisms of the perceived "decline" of language is actually what created and continuously creates language in the first place: Words are combined into metaphores, fusionate, are assimilated and eroded, until they have lost most of their expressiveness and are combined to new metaphores, and so on. Deutscher goes so far as calling language "a reef of dead metaphores".Thought this might interest some of you.