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Linguistics.
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Drizzt



Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Posts: 229
Location: Kyuushuu, Japan

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:40 am    Post subject: Linguistics. Reply with quote

I enjoy teaching ESL so much, that I'm interested in pursuing a master's in linguistics.

Before I invest lots of time and money into a master's program; however, I would like to read some good and interesting introductory books of linguistics to make sure that this discipline is suitable for me.

I'm not looking for books with practical teaching methodology, but rather more of the theoretical side of linguistics which I will encounter in post-graduate study.

I want to make sure this is a field I'm really interested in -- can anyone offer some good suggestions?
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thelmadatter



Joined: 31 Mar 2003
Posts: 1209
Location: in el Distrito Federal x fin!

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 3:18 pm    Post subject: Linguistics Reply with quote

I have a bachelors in Linguistics and a masters in English Language and Linguistics. I cant think of a single book except maybe an introductory textbook by anyone in the field. You dont say where you are, but you might consider taking an introductory course.

Most ppl either love or hate theoretical linguistics and those who love it tend to go for a specialty (syntax, phonetics, semantics, etc.) esp. at the masters level.

Good luck!
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Mon Nov 21, 2005 7:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good single-volume overview in digestible chapters (will still leave you wanting more technical works, though): The Handbook of Linguistics (Blackwell)
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/reader/1405102527/ref=sib_dp_pt/203-4017053-7942345#reader-page

Ray Jackendoff's Foundations of Language is challenging but pretty wide-ranging.
http://bbsonline.cup.cam.ac.uk/Preprints/Jackendoff-07252002/Referees/
http://www.americanscientist.org/template/BookReviewTypeDetail/assetid/12759;jsessionid=baa5_0Z5cSnI9J
http://kybele.psych.cornell.edu/~edelman/on-Jackendoff/edelman.html#Clark00
http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/jackpink.htm

Also check out the review of Seuren's Western Linguistics: An Historical Introduction:
http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=11488#11488

Could also be of interest to you:
http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/viewtopic.php?p=17322#17322
http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/tg/stores/detail/-/books/0198530862/reviews/203-4017053-7942345


The Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics series is very respected (but they can be quite heavy going):
http://www.cambridge.org/series/sSeries.asp?code=CTL
(Van Valin and LaPolla's book on Syntax in the above series is probably one of the more accessible and wide-ranging books that you can get on syntax).
http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521499151


Less authoratative than the Blackwell Handbook/more bitty, but still quite interesting in parts: The Linguistics Encyclopedia, Second Edition (Routledge)


Quick Reference:
P.H Matthews' The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics has just been reissued. Could go the whole hog though and get Crystal's A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics (Blackwell).

Concise but not too simplistic, handy if you want a really quick take on something: Trask, R.L. Key Concepts in Language and Linguistics (Routledge)
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1901
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your MA will likely be in Applied Linguistics, not theoretical Linguistics if you have no background in the area. That means you will be studying a lot of (theory of) second language acquisition, English grammar etc.

That doesn't mean you won't also be studying theoretical linguisics (an intro course at least will almost definately be a requirement, or prereq if you haven't taken one before), it just means that the focus will probably be on the applied side.

I second looking at a first year introductory text An Introduction to Language [- Canadian edition- if there is more than one], by VA Fromkin was used in my intro course. the prose style is not convoluted in any way.

For the SLA type stuff do a google scholar search (click the 'more' tab to the right of the web, news etc list above where you type in google and then hit scholar) for MA Thesis language acquisition or something similar (you can also put in journal articles TESL, TESOL, TESOL Quarterly etc and get lists of topics or names of essays and then do a search on those topics and eventually get an essay in front of you). If you don't specify MA thesis or essay, then you may just get a list of books. I don't know if it goes without saying or no, but if you look at the bibliography of papers available on line then you can get other topics to look up. All this assumes that you don't have access to a university library that will have a tonne of journals already bound that you can just go look through- that would be far easier.
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Drizzt



Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Posts: 229
Location: Kyuushuu, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great list!

Thanks a bunch...

To the poster that asked where I was -- I am now in Shanghai.
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Gordon



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 5309
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I second the vote for the Fromkin book, a great intro to linguistics. I am just finishing my masters in applied linguistics now and found in way more interesting than I thought it would be.
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Gregor



Joined: 06 Jan 2005
Posts: 842
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No one yet has questioned the sense of the very first statement in this thread:
Quote:
I enjoy teaching ESL so much, that I'm interested in pursuing a master's in linguistics.


That doesn't make any sense to me at all. Well, not much, anyway.
"I enjoy Big Macs so much, that I'm interested in becoming a chef."
One doesn't preclude or negate the other, I'll admit. It's just that they are only marginally related.
Is there some reason that you want to do linguistics rather than some sort of teaching (such as an MA or Diploma in TESOL)?
Nothing against linguistics; it seems an interesting subject to me as well. No offense intended, I swear to god. It's just that the first sentence you typed was an almost perfect non sequitur.
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GambateBingBangBOOM



Joined: 04 Nov 2003
Posts: 1901
Location: Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The other mistake in his first sentence is that he almost definately isn't teaching ESL at all. He is in China. He's teaching EFL. I think everybody knew what he meant, and actually, I did mention that he would be doing Applied Linguistics, not Linguistics.
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sojourner



Joined: 28 Jan 2003
Posts: 733
Location: nice, friendly, easy-going (ALL) Peoples' Republic of China

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Drizzt,

As you are currently in Shanghai, have you ever visited the Shanghai Foreign Languages Bookstore ? On the 1st Floor (2nd Floor, if you're an American !), there is an excellent range of the sorts of texts that are often used in Applied Linguistics and TESOL courses in the English-speaking world. Although many of these texts are C.U.P. reprints, they are much, much cheaper than what you'd pay for, back in the West !

Of course, many of these texts are pretty heavy going, especially if you are not familiar with the pertinent terminology and concepts. However, many of the authors of the uni texts have also written books, for a series, that contain shorter (and simpler !) versions of their main ideas. There are about 12, or so, books in that series, called the "Oxford Introductions to Language Study", eg: "Second language Acquisition", by Rod Ellis; "Language and Culture", by Claire Kramsch; "Linguistics", by H.G.Widdowson; and "Psycholinguistics", by Thomas Scovel. Read those books first , rather than the authors' uni texts, in order to give you some idea of the field of Applied Linguistics.

Which uni are you thinking about enrolling with ? With some unis, you might be allowed to include units from TESOL into your programme. Alternately, if your main interest happens to be ESL/EFL, it might be a good idea to enrol in a M.Ed. programme, where you might be allowed to include some units in Applied Linguistics.

Peter
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Drizzt



Joined: 20 Feb 2005
Posts: 229
Location: Kyuushuu, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 6:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gregor, Gambate is correct; when I say "linguistics" I am of course referring to "applied linguistics". I should have been more specific to avoid confusion...

Anyways, I am considering getting a master's because I want to open more doors to teaching at the university level.

Peter, I assume the bookstore you're referring to is the one on Fuzhou lu. I have yet to check into the linguistics section, but I will be sure to do that next time I go--thanks for the suggestion!

For your question, I'm thinking about returning to my home state of Texas in about two years (when I pay off my outstanding student loans and save enough for grad school) and attending UT (University of Texas). They have a master's program in applied linguistics, and honestly I think I will fare much better in a traditional classroom setting as opposed to distance learning.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 9:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, I was taking the OP at his word that he was more interested in just the linguistics rather than its application to ELT in particular.

I've only seen, not read, the Fromkin linguistics book, it looked a bit dry (not enough pictures of hamsters in high-speed plastic exrcise ball chases for my liking LOL) but yeah she is (was?) a good writer and if the other guys here found it interesting then go for it!

But I still tend to be wary of many "introductory" textbooks, because the author(s) are often operating under a set of assumptions that you may not care for once you realize what they are...and what they are or aren't saying or telling you as a consequence (almost everyone kind of bends the knee a bit too much to Chomsky - see below).

For example, the reason I mentioned van Valin and LaPolla (an "introduction" to syntax) was because they've made me aware for about the first time of the elegance of Chomskyan grammar (certainly more than most general introductions to linguistics do, and perhaps moreso even than most introductions specifically devoted to that task could), whilst at the same time offering an alternative to his (multiple) levels of syntactic representation, modularity etc (and no, I haven't finished their book yet so I'm not entirely sure what their alternative fully involves! Surprised Would be interesting to hear of less daunting/desk-breaking books on syntax (that still make their assumptions clear, that tell you why you really indeed needed to your hands dirty in ripping apart language's motor so completely - I mean, you may not like the sound of your new engine once you've put all the pieces that were supplied back together).

[I'm also interested in e.g. Hidden Markov Models (used in speech recognition), but MMs (finite state grammars) rarely get a look-in in linguistics since Chomsky dispensed of them in 1957, despite their obvious utility and success in real applications (Brazil in his Grammar of Speech calls 'Chomsky's contention that the nature of language is such that it (an incremental rule system) would be impossible to achieve (due to its complexity)...probably one of the least questioned arguments in the literature of linguistics' i.e. 'Complication is scarcely an issue if we accept Chomsky's contention...').
http://www.cambridge.org/catalogue/catalogue.asp?isbn=0521530695 (I recall from a quick browse through once that Coleman specifically refutes Chomsky's argument - I shoulda got this book when I first saw it!).
Teachers will however obviously still benefit from a basic knowledge of constituency, and parsing etc (comments from people such as Brazil are often more about getting rid of the "need" for sentences from students than rejecting any more detailed analysis of texts), as explained clearly in e.g. http://www.palgrave.com/products/Catalogue.aspx?is=140391642X )].

That's all just a long way of saying that AL, whilst usually a lot more accessible, can often seem a bit trite, but equally, linguistics proper often has its fair share of "easy" assumptions...so, to get the most out of any course of study, I think it's always good to step back especially before (helps you select a programme that you'll really respond to, where the institution appears to hold beliefs that you're drawn to) but also after, and try to see the broader picture in terms of (scientific? Philosophical? Belief system?) approach...which is where guys like van Valin, Seuren, Sampson, Tomasello, Brazil, Sinclair etc etc "do it" for me (I guess I will never be "smart" enough to really "appreciate" Chomskyan research...but then, he's hardly ever been one to "pander" to teachers at the chalkface).

http://www.eslcafe.com/forums/teacher/viewtopic.php?t=2756

It sounds like the FLB in Shanghai has expanded its range since I worked in the city. Razz

Just tryin' to make conversation here. I love books and bookstores! Razz Razz


Last edited by fluffyhamster on Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:54 am; edited 3 times in total
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carnac



Joined: 30 Jul 2004
Posts: 310
Location: in my village in Oman ;-)

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Drizzt -
Yeah, linguistics, even if you love it, can get pretty dry. I once likened it to dissecting a frog to explain the frog until there was no frog left to explain.
I'd like to suggest that you read Steven Pinker, if you can find any of his books where you are. He's at Harvard these days, main field psycholinguistics, but gets into everything. Books are very readable and often funny. Always thoughtfully-crafted. The guy is brilliant. His website, for a preview of his writing style: http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/ (see "articles")
Until you get your PhD, recommend no Chomsky. Great stuff, but extremely dense without preparation. (actually, without prep, incomprehensible!)
Finishing, here's a nice article about what Pinker is doing: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker/pinker_p1.html
For more, see at Google [ pinker linguistics ]
best - -
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2730
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2005 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the links, carnac! I for one am gonna enjoy reading them! Razz
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nomadder



Joined: 15 Feb 2003
Posts: 709
Location: Somewherebetweenhereandthere

PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read a Pinker book(can't remember the title) and found I didn't agree with his theory. I'd browse through any of his books before buying.
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Stephen Jones



Joined: 21 Feb 2003
Posts: 4124

PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 6:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I read a Pinker book(can't remember the title) and found I didn't agree with his theory.
What theory did you disagree with, and on what criteria and evidence did you base your disagreement.

There has been a lot of hard evidence that has only come to light in the last few years regarding language acquisition, hereditablity, and the mapping of language functions to particular brain areas.

Depending on what you are referring to saying "I didn't agree with the theory" can well be as dilettantish and foolish a statement as saying you don't agree with the theory that the Earth orbits the Sun, or that atoms are made up of sub-atomic particles.
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