The Study of Language by George Yule – Book Review
Authentic Book Review on “The Study of Language”
Here is an authentic and objective book review on the book “The Study of Language” by George Yule. The reviewer is an M.Phil Linguistics Scholar.
The internationalization of language is a modern achievement that is owed to profound linguistic activity based on scientific principles. English has already become an international language while many other countries, like China, are trying to promote their national languages to international level. Separate departments in almost all major universities of the world are devoted to language studies. Likewise the trend of language study is on its peak. Keeping in view the basic needs of newly entered students, a number of scholars of international renown have created works of immense importance. A beginner not only needs to be acquainted with basic linguistic themes and developments but also has to comprehend them fully which will provide them a strong foundation for further linguistic research and specialization. An important achievement in this regard is the publication of the Second Edition of “The Study of Language”. Its author, George Yule, has been teaching Applied Linguistics in many universities, like Minnesota, Edinburgh, Louisiana State and Hawaii University. He has also served as an English teacher in Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, Canada and Britain.
Some of the features of this handbook have appealed me most, as a lecturer and researcher in linguistics, like the provision of study questions, discussion topics and a fairly long list of suggested reading materials at the end of each chapter. With the help of further reading sources, the learners can quench their thirst for further detailed studies. The visual representations like pictures, tree diagrams and tables are found throughout the book wherever necessary. This characteristic will assist the beginners a great deal. The entire contents of the book have been divided into 21 chapters while each dealing with a separate linguistic field or entity.
Though precisely, the book touches all the relevant topics, fields and concerns of linguistics, particularly, its evolutionary history, major or minor developments, branches and levels of linguistic analysis, modern linguistic trends, writing systems, sign languages, difference between women’s and men’s language and speech recognition systems. Pragmatics is an important level of linguistic analysis at macro-level. It has been discussed in a separate unit with adequate detail which will enable the learner fully comprehend the topic.
The book seems to have been compiled with extensive and laborious research work as there are hundreds of references at the end of the book starting from Page 261 to 285. The index of terms, included as a final section of the book, is of great help for quick search and study. Moreover, the suggested answers to the study questions are contained in appendix.
Chapter 1 of the book is about the origins and various sources of language with brief description of glossogenetics, physiological adaptation, interactions and transactions. The 2nd chapter deals with the developmental stages of writing, like pictograms, ideograms, rebus writing, and syllabic & alphabetic writing, etc. Chapter 3 contains various properties of language, like duality, productivity, discreteness, and cultural transmission, etc. In section 4, various aspects of animal and human language have been elaborated. The sounds and sounds patterns of language are discussed in chapter 5 and 6, respectively. Study of words and word formation processes follows the study of phonology and its principles.
Six chapters of the book have been reserved for the precise and comprehensive discussion of various levels of linguistic analysis including morphology, phrases and sentences, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse analysis. Such topics require visual representation for their best understanding and strong grasp. The very purpose has been fulfilled adequately.
The succeeding two chapters, i.e. 15 & 16, deal with the interrelationship and interaction of language with machines and the human brain, respectively. However, the relationship of language with society and culture is explained in the last chapter of the book. Various theories and approaches to first and second language acquisition have been dealt with in the 16th and 17th chapters, respectively. The development and different aspects of sign languages are contained in the next chapter.
Until the beginning of 20th century, the study of language was historical in its nature which is only a branch of modern discipline of linguistics. A separate chapter is devoted for the introductory study of language history and its change. A number of varieties of language can be observed in a single speech community. The language varieties, like standard language, dialects, pidgin, creole, etc. are described in chapter 20 of this precise handbook.
However, this book cannot be considered a complete guide for advanced learners of linguistics. It is also observed that this edition of the book is limited in its scope as a number of important topics have not been introduced here, like a wide range of intra-disciplinary branches and the extensive relationship of linguistics with other areas of study. Even then, in my opinion, the book adequately serves the desired purpose, i.e. introductory language study.
Author: George Yule
Year of Publication: 1996
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Price in USA: USD 6
Muhammad Ishaq Qureshi,
M. A. English.