Author: Peter Roach
Series: Oxford Introductions to Language Study
Genre: Linguistics/ Language Studies
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Edition/ Impression / Year of Publication: Edition 2001
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 Phonetics: What makes humans different from the other species is our complex and advanced system of language that we use to communicate. We might communicate via writing or by using the sign language or by making certain facial expressions that enables one to comprehend those writings, symbols, and gestures into meaningful expressions. All these systems of communications allow one to understand the feelings and emotions that are inherent in that medium of communication. Likewise, we have developed emoticons or smileys that convey to the receiver the anger, frustration, happiness, sadness or confusion and so many other emotions that you might be feeling.
An artist’s form of communication is the art form that one creates. The medium of a painter to express oneself is the painting, and the music allows one to have a glimpse into the musician’s universe and the way the musician wanted that music to be comprehended. But still, every art form is open to interpretations due to the lack of symmetry between the purpose of the artist behind creating and that of the critic behind understanding.
Another complex medium of communication that is most often used is the speech and Phonetics is the scientific subject that studies the complicated process of speech. In Phonetics every sound is represented by a particular symbol. International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) is the system of phonetic symbols that represents the sound of any language. Linguistics studies all the aspects of human language, and it must be remembered that the science of phonetics is an essential part of the subject of linguistics.
Special Note: The whole book is theoretical in nature and details the diverse topics that lie within the scope of Phonetics, and it would not be possible to provide any further information about them in such a short introduction to a book that is itself introductory in nature.
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.