Language and Languages: An Introduction to Linguistics

Language and Languages: An Introduction to Linguistics

Language and Languages: An Introduction to Linguistics

Language and Languages: An Introduction to Linguistics

Excerpt

This book is intended primarily as a general introduction to the science of language. Emphasis is laid, therefore, on fundamentals and organization rather than on erudition and an abundance of facts, while the terminology current among linguists is not sacrificed to the amateur's desire for a more popular form of presentation. It is the author's belief that a technical nomenclature is indispensable to any science and that no substitute can escape the danger of inadequacy and perhaps ambiguity. The popularizing chemist does not translate his scientific terms into nonscientific language, but the interested public is invited to accept these terms with their meanings if it wishes to learn something about chemistry. In linguistics the necessity of a proper terminology is particularly great because of the risk of contamination involved in the use of many philosophical and psychological terms traditionally charged with meanings which are cognate to, but by no means identical with, the subtle distinctions suggested by linguistic analysis.

For the general reader our plan and method mean both an advantage and a handicap. But the advantage can come to him only on condition that some patient thinking about fundamental processes be gone through in terms which will, for a time perhaps, stare at him with varying degrees of strangeness. Once the most essential distinctions have revealed to him the secrets of a few score of unfamiliar names, however, he is on the way to a sounder understanding of what language is, of how it comes about, how it works and changes, of what its relations are to the individual and to mankind. Although it would be rational and, for the more ambitious . . .

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