And Other Myths About Language Explained’
By Abby Kaplan
Published By: Cambridge University Press
Publication Date: 11th April 2016
Do women talk more than men? Does text messaging make you stupid? Can chimpanzees really talk to us? This fascinating textbook addresses a wide range of language myths, focusing on important big-picture issues such as the rule-governed nature of language or the influence of social factors on how we speak. Case studies and analysis of relevant experiments teach readers the skills to become informed consumers of social science research, while suggested open-ended exercises invite students to reflect further on what they’ve learned. With coverage of a broad range of topics (cognitive, social, historical), this textbook is ideal for non-technical survey courses in linguistics. Important points are illustrated with specific, memorable examples: invariant ‘be’ shows the rule-governed nature of African-American English; vulgar female speech in Papua New Guinea shows how beliefs about language and gender are culture-specific. Engaging and accessibly written, Kaplan’s lively discussion challenges what we think we know about language.
Things I learnt from this book:
- Women and men speak the same number of words per day (both average at 16,000)
- Despite this, women are perceived to speak more than men (even when men dominate the conversation)
- Texting does not make you less articulate or less intelligent
- Bilingual babies are better at noticing when an image has moved from one screen to another
- Apes might have some sort of language but it isn’t the same sort of language as humans
- Dialects have an internal logical consistency
- Society governs our speech patterns in ways we don’t expect until we look at it closely
- My education in statistics is severely lacking
- Read the research papers not the popular press if you really want to know what the results of an experiment are
For a text book it’s really easy to read and not at all dull or overly technical, while providing enough depth and references for linguistics students, especially if you’re just getting in to studying the subject. I really liked this book and think it will be helpful for students but also for the general reader with a passing interest in linguistics. The extensive references is very useful and the series of ‘For Further Discussion’ questions at the end of each chapter are thought provoking and practical.