Basic Annotated Linguistics Bibliography

This won’t be long, but a few people asked for it and its worth writing about in any case, I suppose.

  1. David Crystal’s Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics (The Language Library).
    Now I know that this book looks expensive. But the secret of it is two fold: 1) Get the paperback. 2) Get the previous edition. I actually have the 1991 edition and its suits me just fine. Its answered all my questions when I’ve come across terminology I didn’t know. The strength of the book is that it is framework independent and generally does a fantastic job at explaining how different people and frameworks have used the same words for different things. That’s often a lifesaver when it comes to reading book from different perspectives (cf. also the SIL Glossary)
  2. Paul Kroeger’s Analyzing Grammar: An Introduction (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics).
    This is a great little book and an excellent introduction to syntax and morphology. The book’s goals are practical – How do you do morphological analysis? How do you do syntactic analysis? Its generative, but its not Chomskyan, so there are not deep structures or anything like that. In general, there is very little framework/theory specific claims. You only analyze the actual sentence form. You’d think this would be a no-brainer, but for some reason, Chomsky made it so it isn’t. Can anyone say, “Unnecessarily complicated”? Anyway, this book doesn’t do that. The book has exercises for practicing, too, from a variety of languages, if you wanted to practice what it teaches. With that said, the book doesn’t do anything with pragmatics or more complicated morphology – two features that are well represented in Greek. But even still, its provides an excellent foundation for more detailed study of morphology and syntax. And its greatest strength is its provision of a method for analysis.
  3. P. H. Matthews’ Morphology (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics) 2nd Edition.
    Basically, what Kroeger’s book doesn’t say about morphology, Matthews’ does. And more importantly for those of us studying Greek, he deals specifically with the morphology structure of the Greek verb and its high level of synthesis. Much of what I’m doing in FLEx (but not all) on the Greek verb is based on Matthews’ analysis. Its helpful and provides a good vocabulary for what we see in Greek word formation in terms of having multiple morpheme forms representing multiple grammatical meanings (i.e. the primary endings coincide with both subject agreement and present tense and the secondary endings coincide with past tense [<- insert proximate/remote if you prefer]).
  4. Robert Van Valin Jr.’s An Introduction to Syntax.
    This book on syntax covers the same ground as Kroeger’s book above and doesn’t add to much more. Its main strength is the last chapter, which provides an extremely helpful survey of different theories of syntax how they differ and what Van Valin views as their strengths and weaknesses for analyzing synax. Of course, his own theory, Role and Reference Grammar, obviously wins out in his mind, but even still, its a relatively fair survey and provides information that’s hard to find elsewhere. What it does not do is provide much theoretical discussion for why there different theories do what they do in their analysis, but that’s okay because genearlly that’s more advanced information anyway. Basically, its more reliable than Wikipedia and relatively cheap used. Unfortunately, it doesn’t say much about functional theories of syntax (i.e. Simon Dik, Halliday, Givon, Bulter, etc.), but there are worse things int he world.
  5. Gillian Brown and George Yule’s Discourse Analysis (Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics).
    I’ve only read parts of this book, but what I’ve read has been good. Its “old” (1983), but has and continues to hold its ground against other newer books on the subject. That isn’t to say that the book hasn’t been surpassed. Its just that none of those books are very helpful as introductions. So basically, I would say that Brown and Yule functions well as a starting point into more advanced discussions, which perhaps I’ll mention in a future post on more advance books that cover these subjects.

I think I’ll do at least two more posts for an annotated linguistics bibliography. It depends on what people want. At a minimum, I plan on writing another post on more advanced discussions of these same topics and then a third post on books that cover these topics that relate to Greek. But if anyone prefers, I could also do a post on other aspects of linguistics – phonology & phonetics. I wish I could do something in semantics or lexicography, but I’ve read far less in those areas than I have in syntax or morphology. Now with that said, I would hold that they’re all interconnected – grammar, in my view, is the interaction of the lexicon, syntax, pragmatics, phonology, morphology, and semantics all together. You can’t really separate them from each other.