We have a range of interviews covering books on linguistics. Daniel L Everett, Dean of Arts and Sciences at Bentley University chooses his best books on language and thought. He argues that all language has a basis in culture, and explains how Chomsky is like Freud: crucial, but crucially wrong. Among his choices are Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech by Edward Sapir, Language in Relation to a Unified Theory of the Structure of Human Behaviour by Kenneth Pike and Making it Explicit: Reasoning, Representing & Discursive Commitment by Robert Brandom.
Lane Greene, columnist on language and linguistics for the Economist, chooses his best books on language and the mind. He discusses the extent to which languages do and do not affect the way people actually think about things. He chooses, among others, Through the Language Glass by Guy Deutscher, The Language Instinct by Stephen Pinker and The Genius of Language, edited by Wendy Lessen.
The author Henry Hitchings, who specialises in language and cultural history thinks the globalisation of English is not a matter of concern for lovers of the language. He chooses Empires of the Word: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler, Mother Tongues by Helena Drysdale, The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature by Stephen Pinker, History in English Words by Owen Barfield and A Mouthful of Air by Anthony Burgess.
Which linguistics books give a good sense of what the field is about? David Adger, Professor of Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London and the current president of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, recommends some of his own favourite books on the science of language, including a sci-fi novel.
Language: An Introduction to the Study of Speech
by Edward Sapir
Language In Relation To A Unified Theory Of The Structure Of Human Behaviour
by Kenneth Pike
Aspects of the Theory of Syntax
by Noam Chomsky
On Understanding Grammar
by Talmy Givón
Making It Explicit: Reasoning, Representing & Discursive Commitment
by Robert Brandom
Does the world look different in other languages? Are there words that cannot be translated? Is it OK to say disinterested when you mean uninterested? Lane Greene, who writes the Economist’s “Johnson” column on language, dispels some of the popular but misguided ideas many of us have about language.