Author: H.G. Widdowson
Series: Oxford Introductions to Language Study
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition/ Impression / Year of Publication: First Published 1996
Series Editor: H.G. Widdowson
About the Series: This is a beautifully structured introductory series for the beginners into the field of Linguistics. The best part of these bite-sized series is its functional approach; it does not only meets the demands of the research students in linguistics but also of those how are interested in the discipline for the pure love of languages.
The very general character of introduction is comprehensive, and the use of least technical terminology also adds up to its readability for someone who is new to the subject. Although those who are entirely new would still find it a bit complex and those who were already into the field of linguistics might find it lacking details in certain aspects. However, considering the length of the book and its introductory nature together with the scope of the subject material that it entails; it does justice to the subject as a beginners series. Much care is taken that marks it as an excellent introductory series in the field of linguistics.
Each book in the series is introductory and gives the reader an overview of the field or the sub-field and creates the groundwork for going any further into research on the topics. These books fulfill a two-way purpose; they work as an introduction to the language while simultaneously as to the linguistics as a field of discipline.
The structure and the format of these books are reader-friendly, bifurcated in four parts: Survey, Readings, Reference, and Glossary. The Survey encompasses the main headings and their sub-topics and their further elaboration with a summary at the end. It is free of unnecessary research terminologies, and references are enabling a more straightforward understanding for those who are new to the subject but still these must not be taken as simplistic obviously. Reading consist of the extracts from the specialist scholarly literature which would help enable the reader to get a deeper understanding of the topic. These are further accorded with questions to better their knowledge of the subject concerned. Reference is for those who are interested in more detailed studies. It details other books and articles that a reader might like to refer to do further in-depth research. Lastly, Glossary provides with the meanings of the technical words that the reader encountered within the book. Although the definition is inherent in the context where they appeared still the reader would find it works as a helpful tool.
In the words of H.G. Widdowson, the series editor, ‘The notion of an introduction will mean different things to different people, but in all the cases the concern is to provide access to specialist knowledge and to simulate an awareness of its significance. This series in a whole has been designed to provide this access and promote this awareness in respect to different areas of language study.’
About Linguistics: Linguistics is the scientific study of language that seeks to analyze the form, structure, content, and meaning inherent in any contextual expression given the medium of expression is language whether spoken or sign.
Ashtadhyayi is the oldest surviving complete Sanskrit work on linguistics available that is believed to have been completed around the fifth century B.C.E. Panini, is admired as the father of Indian Linguistics and is credited to have done the immense work Ashtadhyayi, a foundational work on the Vyakarana. Vyakarana is the systematic study of grammar and its linguistic analysis in Sanskrit.
Later, the work is commented upon by Katyayana, about whom we know through the Mahabhasya, The Great Commentary completed around the second century B.C.E by Patanjali, who did not just discussed but also elaborated the original text and even gave to it a philosophical character. Whether or not is the Patanjali of Mahabhashya and the Patanjali of Yoga are same is a part of the ongoing debate. These three are the most prominent ancient grammarians whose works gave a foundational structure to the modern linguistics and also offered to the Modern systems of Linguistics a historical background to look upon.
Special Note: The reader might not find much Historical data including the above within the book due to its core emphasis upon the language and its usage in the contemporary contexts.
My Experience: These were the first introductory books that I took as an amateur when my interest from the Philosophy of Language started inclining towards the Philosophy of Linguistics that is the Philosophy of Science as applied to Linguistics and through that it ultimately overstepped into the discipline of Linguistics. I had always found the works on the Philosophy of Language to be the most complex to understand precisely when I first went through the Tractatus Logico Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein. That was the most complicated writing that I first went through in the early days, and even the works on Physics and Economics, which I then had no experience of, seemed like a light-hearted comic read in comparison to it. Language studies incidentally helped me to understand the difficult to comprehend writings of philosophers like Heidegger, Husserl, Hegel and Derrida while I simultaneously also maintained and kept aside the possibility that these giants are always incomprehensible.