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Language Myths

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3.70  ·  Rating details ·  1,090 ratings  ·  88 reviews
The media are ruining English"; "Some languages are harder than others"; "Children can't speak or write properly anymore." Such pieces of "cultural wisdom" are often expressed in newspapers and on radio and television. Rarely is there a response from experts in the fields of language and language development. In this book Laurie Bauer and Peter Trudgill have invited ninete ...more
Paperback, 189 pages
Published September 7th 1999 by Penguin Books (first published November 26th 1998)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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Lisa
Jun 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Interesting and fun if you want to dig deeper into how language and our perception of it changes over time (and space).

I borrowed this book from a colleague and read it with great pleasure, as I find language myths very exciting. I particularly enjoyed the essay "Women talk too much", and was quick to tell my colleague afterwards, when returning the book, that there is convincing evidence that it is a real myth! Men tend to have more air time and talk more in public and at meetings.

My colleague
...more
David
Jul 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
I found this book to be a great disappointment. Don't get me wrong - there's nothing I find healthier than a little myth-debunking. So I was predisposed to like this collection of 21 essays, edited by Bauer and Trudgill.

Each chapter takes a particular 'language myth' and then argues against the validity of the myth, some more convincingly than others. (Having tried to learn both Russian and Spanish as foreign languages, I think it's fair to say that the statement "Some languages are harder than
...more
al
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: prescriptivists, people with an interest in socio-linguistics or linguistic oppression
A lot of the reviews here are coming from people with linguistics backgrounds, and that is not who this book is aimed at. I read this book extra-curricularly (from film school, long ago) and I thought it was pretty informative. if you don't think that people genuinely believe that meanings of words and 'grammar rules' are set in stone and clearly good or bad, right or wrong, i think you must not spend much time with non-linguists. just bobbing around the internet, there are examples of ill-place ...more
Marie-Therese
Apr 26, 2020 rated it liked it
This anthology isn't going to impress or educate anyone with a serious background in linguistics but it's a fun, interesting read for the general public and first-year students, precisely the audience it appears to be pitched to.
Maud
Nov 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: stand-alone
I had to read this book for my Advanced Linguistics class but I didn't mind that at all! I found this book to be really interesting and fun. It tackles some well known language myths and knocks them over by providing evidence in the form or research and short, good examples. I had such a blast reading this book, I wish it would get a sequel. If you are interested in languages and myths surrounding them I highly recommend you to pick this one up!
Laura
Jul 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theory-language
Provides a great perspective on language and American society's perception of it. Each essay is equally intriguing and revealing. I loved the essay about Southern and New York accents, given the fact I'm Southern.

Also, I do not understand the low ratings this book has. Langauge Myths DOES deconstruct what we assume about language. And, yes, they are right when they claim the idea that some langauges are harder to learn than others is bogus. I learned both French and Russian and did not ever thi
...more
Lavina
Aug 21, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: 2007, nonfiction
An easy and ultimately disappointing read. I fully support all of David's arguments against this (about the "myths" being straw men and being questionable as myths or anything worth discussing with any amount of seriousness in the first place). To the book's credit, though, I don't think it is meant to be particularly profound, enlightening, or remotely academic, so no alarms, no surprises.
Linh Nguyen
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
A good, diverse set of linguistics essays targeted at the general public, written by linguists (rare for popular linguistics books). Includes accessible intros on how to think about language structure, as well as eye-opening essays on topics in sociolinguistics.
Eline
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I liked this book because it explains in basic (socio)linguistic terms what makes these myths so incorrect. Some, however, I found a bit easily dealt with. "Some languages are harder than others" describes how the difficulty of languages are mostly due to very different factors and therefore cannot be pinned down or listed, but I do think that you could say that languages with a different alphabet or a grammatical system which is different in every aspect imaginable is much harder to learn. I re ...more
WhizKid
Mar 02, 2009 rated it it was ok
Inherent Value Hypothesis. WIred to us which language is more "attractive."
Perceived pleasantness ~ Intelligibility
It has a social currency(consequence). Purely social process of selecting "standard" language.(Linguistic security)
NYC and South ~ Less perceived as pleasant
Mideast(ohio,MI,..) ~ "No accent"
Sandi
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this to review for student use in an intro to linguistics course, and I think at least some of the essays would be good discussion material for undergraduates. The book is laid out as a series of short essays, each one by a different author debunking a cultural "myth" about language. One advantage is that the essays are very short and engaging, requiring very little familiarity with linguistics. For classroom use, I could see using a myth or two as an introduction into a unit or paired wi ...more
Melissa
Jan 26, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: language
I got my degree in Linguistics and this was one of the books for my classes. For some particular reason I kept it and decided to read it again today. Everyone loves a good myth, and just as much people generally enjoy debunking a myth as well. That is what this book sets out to do for language. It is comprised of several chapters, each having their title state what it is that will be discussed and written by several different authors.

The Meaning of Words Should Not Be Allowed to Vary or Change b
...more
Clint Joseph
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a good one if you haven't read a lot of language books, so I'm going to go ahead and rate it higher than I might necessarily do. Not that I'm super smart, just that you get a certain amount of exposure to things and you sort of pick things up. Good and bad.

That being said, this is an exceptionally readable, interesting, fun book. It's a collection of essays based on "myths" like "Women speak more than men," "Some languages have no grammar," or "Media is ruining English." I read just a co
...more
Marriah (LemonTartPages)
Jun 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: linguistics nerds, language teachers
So much is packed into so few pages! This book covers "language myths" that address different parts of linguistics, from grammar to accents to spelling. While many of the essays are persuasive -- they aim to debunk a language myth -- they are also very informative and give facts both for and against the argument. I really felt that while the authors of the essays were trying to convince me, the reader, that the myth was wrong, they also wanted to teach why the myth sometimes isn't wrong -- all m ...more
Mila
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was ok
This book adresses many interesting stereotypes and prejudices about language and language use. Due to it being a collection of texts from different people however, it ended up being rather repetetive.
I found it super interesting but rather tedious to read. The length of each myth made it comprehensible to readers without much background knowledge but also kept the depth of discussion rather shallow. A few chapters were incredibly interesting and well discussed while others were altogether rathe
...more
Edward Shalsh
May 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
It's a fascinating compilation of misconceptions and misunderstanding of languages and the languages' properties. They provide a simple elucidation and dissection of the matter discussed but at the same time giving professional insights and analyses.
My favorite myth "chapter" was myth 13 ( Black Children are Verbally Deprived) by Walt Wolfram.
I didn't agree with all their explanations but I respected the objectivity in which information is provided.
Great read and I believe it should be part o
...more
Lola
Feb 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Small confession: I did not read the entire book. This was assigned for my Language and Culture class, but we each had a chapter we were responsible for. Mine was Myth #6, Women Talk Too Much. I have read select chapters here and there, and I do think this is an excellent read for anyone interested in linguistics. It is a little dry, however, and I honestly want to move onto something more fun.
Roxie
Nov 15, 2019 added it
This is a good intro to sociolinguistics, I think, because it offers a very readable and bite-sized primer to how linguists have to think and study languages in spite of our preconceived notions about Language (and we all do have them, even in spite ourselves!)

That said, I found the quality of the chapters quite uneven (also, I picked this up a bit late in the linguistics game as a 4th year student), but I still learnt more than a few things! I would recommend it overall :)
TheLastMango
some essays are better than others, gives a good overview of linguistics for a layperson. somewhat repetitive, with the reasons why certain languages are seen as "better/nicer" than others, and that every language has grammar. at times too technical, with discussion on latin endings, but a generally interesting read.
Sarah
Dec 07, 2016 rated it liked it
Interesting and, sometimes, entertaining.
I struggled a bit more with it than anticipated; my brain just isn't the same as it was back in college. Linguistics is so much easier to understand when you're IN it.
Lori
Apr 05, 2018 rated it liked it
Some of the essays are richly compelling. A few are less so. If you like to think about language, this will give you neat little pellets to introduce you to common misconceptions about language (and, therefore, about people).
Grace
Jan 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book! A quick read. Essays are slightly dated but still filled with thought-provoking material. Definitely sparked new interest in reading more socio-linguistic books for further reading.
Othman
Mar 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
If you're a linguist or a language enthusiast, there's nothing new to learn from this book. This book is for the layperson. My two-star rating is for the fact that the book seems to be concentrating more on English for illustration.
Mette
Oct 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at the way language works.
Griffin Fickes
Mar 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
A fascinating exploration of the nature of language.
Amy P
Jul 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Read it for my degree, still reference it in arguments about how language these days is being destroyed...
Malaga
Oct 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing
bust those myths.
Marissa
Jun 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: linguistics
Fascinating essays refuting common language myths. They give you plenty of other sources for discussion and expansion on each subject as well. I quite enjoyed it.
Aisha  Iman
I practically read the whole thing. I just realized my goodreads says i only read 21 books which is a definite lie since I've actually never read so many books and essays in my life
Marith R
Apr 05, 2020 rated it it was ok
Some myths were interesting.
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Qegs language 201...: Women talk too much 13 11 Jan 10, 2018 12:54PM  
Qegs language 201...: Accents 2 8 Jan 08, 2018 10:52AM  

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