A skeptical linguist looks at non-mainstream ideas about language

Mark Newbrookcov-9783862884193

with Jane Curtain and Alan Libert

This book provides a critical and historiographical overview of non-mainstream (‘fringe’) claims and theories about language and languages presented by non-linguists, with an especial focus on work produced in the last fifty years. Topic areas include the origins and relationships of languages, historical and non-historical aspects of writing systems, linguistic material emanating from mysterious sources, supposed non-human languages, language and the mind, etc. The ideas discussed range from the truly bizarre to the merely dubious. The last chapter deals with some aspects of mainstream linguistics which appear to invite skeptical attention.

Although there is a substantial critical literature on some specific topics of this kind, there has never before been a linguistically-informed general work on this entire topic area; this work remedies this situation. Newbrook outlines, explains and critiques a wide range of such ideas, in his capacity as a professional linguist associated with the world-wide skeptical movement. The intention is to be fair and free of dogmatism in making critiques, and not to ‘debunk’ without due consideration. Newbrook also addresses the question of how each set of non-mainstream ideas developed out of earlier (often largely non-linguistic) intellectual or quasi-intellectual background thinking. Unnecessary technicalities are avoided and key concepts are explained in a glossary or as they arise.

Mark Newbrook was born and brought up in Wirral near Liverpool in North-West England. He completed a BA (Honours) in Classics (including Indo-European philology) at Corpus Christi College, Oxford and went on to take an MA and a PhD in linguistics at the University of Reading, specialising in variationist historical dialectology and associated attitudinal matters. Subsequently he spent many years as a lecturer and researcher in linguistics in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. While in Australia, Mark combined his professional activities with his broad-based interest in skepticism to become one of the few identifying 'skeptical linguists'; he was linguistics consultant to Australian Skeptics and now occupies similar roles in the equivalent British organisations. He has authored several books and many articles and reviews on various aspects of linguistics, notably sociolinguistics, dialectology and skeptical linguistics.

ISBN 9783862884193. Linguistics Edition 93. 394pp. 2013.

French Pronunciation & Accents
Geo-social Applications of the Natural Phonetics & Tonetics Method

Luciano CanepariC-Canepari-French
University of Venice
This book applies the principles of Natural Phonetics & Tonetics to describe the pronunciation of French, including intonation, in a precise way never found in earlier treatises. It includes an introduction to the Natural Phonotonetics Method, which can be used for any other language, as well (without the sadly known limitations of official IPA).
The vowels, consonants, structures, and intonation of French, including liaison and the unstable e phoneme, are fully described and transcribed, with many examples of words, sentences, and conversations, in addition to the intonationally integrated IPA sample passage ‘The North Wind and the Sun’, and some lofty texts.
Different types of French pronunciation are fully described: international, neutral, traditional, mediatic. In addition, the neutral, mediatic and broad pronunciations currently used in France, Belgium, and Switzerland are extensively treated.
Further chapters describe (with clear phonic maps) the 61 regional accents found in: France, Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada, and other parts of the world.
Other chapters provide 7 traditional dialects, 23 foreign accents of French, 4 diachronic stages, 26 concise language phonopses for easier comparisons.
A mini-phono-dictionary contains about 200 words, chosen among the most problematic ones for pronunciation and the use of liaison. Extensive lists of homophones and numbers are also provided.
ISBN 9783862887910 (Hardbound). LINCOM Studies in Phonetics  21. 428pp. 2017.
From Merge to Move
A Minimalist Perspective on the Design of Language and its Role in Early Child Syntax

Joseph Galasso C-Galasso
California State University, Northridge
Perhaps the most unique of human-language properties is the existence of syntactic movement operations. The question as to why they should even appear within language has puzzled linguists ever since the conception of the generative grammar framework.  A second and perhaps even more interesting question is to ask how movement operations come to be embedded within the language faculty as template structures—and whether such templates for movement take-on emergent, maturational qualities over the brief span of a child’s early syntactic development.
In this monograph, assuming the current incarnation of the Minimalist Program (Chomsky 1995), the author has attempted to sort out what such an emergent language faculty would look like given its underdeveloped status at early syntactic stages of child language acquisition, assuming the biological null hypothesis calling for a maturational-based theory of child syntax. Namely, what types of configurations and operations would be seen at an early stage which first manifests only local Merge-based operations absent of what would become later-developed distant Move-operations? Data to be examined involve a longitudinal case study of a child, as well as other data dealing with Broca’s Aphasia which may shed further light on the question.  


ISBN 9783862887569 (Hardbound). LINCOM Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 59. 238pp. 2016.


Complete Guide to English! A User-Friendly Manual

Marcel Danesi C-danesi_6
University of Toronto
This book constitutes a complete guide to English grammar and how it is used in common conversations. It shows how the parts of English grammar fit together to produce a simple system that can be used to make communication effective and meaningful. It is intended for both native speakers of the language and those who are studying it as a foreign or second language. It takes nothing for granted and explains everything in the simplest terms possible.
With hundreds of practical exercises, the book can be used as a textbook for classroom usage, as a self-study manual, or as a reference manual of English grammar, since it contains a complete description of the language. Answers to all exericses are found at the back, as is a grammar glossary and a list of irregular verbs. This manual has in it all that someone will probably need to gain proficiency in the English language.
ISBN 9783862887415. LINCOM Language Textbooks 07. 382pp. 2016.


Typology of Taxis Constructions

Viktor S. Xrakovskij (ed.)C-Xrak5

Russian Academy of Sciences

This collective volume by the Language Typology Workshop of the St. Petersburg Institute for Linguistic Studies (Russian Academy of Sciences) addresses taxis (relative tense) constructions in languages of different structure. It continues the Workshop’s earlier studies under a general research program launched in the 1960s and focused on the grammatical verb categories related to the semantic and syntactic structure of the sentence. The Workshop’s earlier publications in English include: Nedjalkov V. P. (ed.). Typology of Resultative Constructions. Amsterdam, 1988; Xrakovskij V. S. (ed.). Typology of Iterative Constructions, LINCOM, München, 1997; Xrakovskij V. S. (ed.). Typology of Imperative Constructions. LINCOM München, 2001; Xrakovskij V. S. (ed.). Typology of Conditional Constructions. LINCOM, München, 2005; Nedjalkov V. P. (ed.). Reciprocal Constructions. Amsterdam; Philadelphia, 2007; and Xrakovskij V. S. (ed.). Typology of Concessive Constructions. LINCOM, München, 2012. This volume consists of two parts and an appendix.

Part 1 provides a background on taxis studies and sets forth the underlying theoretical concept. The proposed theoretical concept makes it possible to describe taxis constructions in a form that allows to demonstrate both their common (above all, semantic) properties and typological (above all, grammatical) differences between both related and unrelated languages. The concept establishes a typology of taxis verb forms, provides a characterization of prototypical and peripheral taxis constructions, and proposes calculi for taxis meanings and taxis constructions.

Part 2 consists of two sections and 20 chapters on taxis constructions in various languages. The descriptions are to a large extent uniform as they are based on a common questionnaire.

The contributors to this collective volume are: Alpatov V. M., Barentsen A. (Netherlands),  Bystrov I. S. , Dmitrenko S. Yu., Ibragimov I. I., Iskhakova X. F., Kordi E. E. , Kramarova S. G., Malchukov A. L., Nasilov D. M., Nedjalkov I. V., Nevskaya I. A.,   Nicolova R. (Bulgaria), Nikitina T. N., Nikitina T. V., Ogloblin A. K., Orosz A. (Hungary), Spatari N. M., Stankevich N. V., Tommola H.  (Finland), Wiemer B.  (Germany), Xrakovskij V. S., and Zorikhina-Nilsson N. (Sweden).

ISBN 9783862887224 (Hardbound). LINCOM Studies in Theoretical Linguistics 58. 710pp. 2016.


Complaints and Impoliteness in Service Encounters:

A Mixed Method Analysis

Ronald Geluykens & Bettina KraftC-geluykens_5

University of Oldenburg; University of Trier

Research on (im)politeness phenomena within (cross-cultural) pragmatics has, in the past, all too often focused on a narrow range of face-threatening acts such as requests and apologies, employing a limited range of (controlled) data tools such as dicourse completion tasks (DCTs), and using one single research method. The current book attempts to address these limitations by focusing on (spontaneously) occurring conflictual exchanges, and by using a mixed method approach.

The contribution this study makes is twofold. First of all, by employing a mixture of controlled (DCTs, role plays) and spontaneous (telephone and face-to-face) data, and by combining quantitative and qualitative analyses, we emphasize the advantages, indeed the necessity, of a mixed methodology. Secondly, by concentrating on service encounters, we show that complaints are speech events which are highly context-sensitive. We also demonstrate that previous studies have overestimated the role of politeness strategies in complaints; hence our claim that any analysis of conflict talk needs to take the role of impoliteness phenomena into account as well.

Ronald Geluykens is Full Professor of English Language at the University of Oldenburg; Bettina Kraft is Senior Lecturer in English Linguistics at the University of Trier. They have collaborated extensively on the analysis of complaints in the past.

ISBN 9783862887101 (Hardbound). LINCOM Studies in Pragmatics 30. 276pp. 2016.


Geschichten der klassischen japanischen Literatur

Noriko Katsuki-Pestemer (ed.)          C-katsuki5

Universität Trier


Dieses Buch präsentiert 48 Geschichten aus zwölf setsuwa-Werken der klassischen japanischen Literatur vom 9. bis 13. Jahrhundert. Zu diesem Genre der japanischen Literatur gehören Anekdoten, Erzählungen, Kurzgeschichten, Legenden, Mythen und Volkserzählungen; die Gemeinsamkeit dieser Gattungen ist, dass es sich um mündlich oder schriftlich tradierte Literatur handelt.

Die Originalfassung der Geschichten im klassischen Japanisch und teilweise im klassischen Chinesisch wurde unter der Leitung der Herausgeberin von Absolventen und Studierenden des Faches Japanologie an der Universität Trier ins Deutsche übersetzt. Eine jede dieser Geschichten enthüllt zahlreiche kulturelle Hintergründe, welche mit Fußnoten erläutert werden. Zudem entschlüsselt das im Buch angehängte Glossar, erstellt von Leon Krings, buddhistische, shintoistische und kulturgeschichtliche Fachtermini, um dem Leser ein noch tieferes Verständnis der Geschichten zu ermöglichen.

Das Zentralthema betrifft mehrheitlich den Buddhismus: Darstellung der Mönche und Nonnen mit hintergründiger Komik; buddhistische Belehrungen durch wundersame Geschichten; Vorstellung buddhistischer Werte (Duldsamkeit, Dankbarkeit, Mitgefühl für Mitmenschen); buddhistische Betrachtung der Frauen. Zudem sind Elemente des Konfuzianismus und Shintoismus, wie z. B. konfuzianistische Pietät und shintoistische Betrachtung der Gottheiten, erkennbar. Neben dem Buddhismus spielt auch Komik eine zentrale Rolle, welche durch übernatürliche Kräfte dargestellter Protagonisten hervorgerufen wird: bärenstarke Frauen, Mönche mit übernatürlichen Kräften, außergewöhnlich mutige junge Männer bei einer Mutprobe und ein Großfraß eines hohen Hofbeamten. Die durch Peinlichkeit hervorgerufene Komik ist zudem bei einigen Geschichten feststellbar. Außerdem gibt es Geschichten, deren Ursprung im alten China festzustellen ist, sodass eine enge kulturelle Verbindung zwischen China und Japan verdeutlicht wird. Eine Geschichte zeigt ferner die politische und kulturelle Verbindung zu der damaligen Koreanischen Halbinsel auf. Es treten in den dargestellten Geschichten neben Menschen nicht nur Tiere (Füchse, ein Marder, Rehe, eine Kuh, eine Krabbe, eine Schlange, ein Hund und Bienen), sondern auch fiktive Wesen (der oni, der tengu und Drachen) auf. Anekdoten geschichtlich bekannter Persönlichkeit werden auch geschildert. Alle diese Geschichten stellen verschiedene Gefühle der Menschen wie z. B. Angst, Eifersucht, Freude, Liebe, Neid, Traurigkeit und Wut dar.

Das Buch wird den Leser in eine Welt einführen, in der anhand Geschichten der klassischen japanischen Literatur ihm bislang verborgene Kulturen vorgestellt werden, die dessen ungeachtet gleichzeitig Gemeinsamkeiten zwischen voneinander vollkommen verschiedenen Kulturen aufzeigen.

ISBN 9783862886838 (Hardbound). LINCOM Studien zur Japanologie 01. 274 S.  2016.