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Kalleh's question in the IPA thread about a good introductory book to linguistics and my subsequent list gave me the idea that perhaps we can start a reading group and a thread for the chosen books. We could choose one of the books, and discuss it on a chapter by chapter, section by section, paragraph by paragraph basis. I could also suggest exercises to test comprehension of the basics. I'll review the books and discuss it with the other linguistics group moderators.


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That's a great idea, z. I would love that!
 
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I like to start by reading primary sources in chronological order, rather than a textbook.
 
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Chronological order? Do you mean start with the first linguistics book that has ever been written and go from there? Neveu, that sounds quite scholarly in learning the field, but I am not sure that I have the kind of time to commit to that sort of study.
 
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What's your hurry? You going somewhere?
 
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I starting rereading Saussure's Course in General Lingusitics and Sapir's Language again to see which one might be better to start with. They're both still in print and aimed at a beginning audience. I'll take a look at Jespersen's Language and get back to you ...


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I'm leaning towards Sapir for the moment. It's not a textbook but it is a good and gentle introduction to what (structural) linguistics is.

neveu, there's no reason we can't have an advanced reading group, too. I suggest we start compiling a list of primary sources. Should we start with Rask, Bopp (link), or Grimm? W P Lehmann's A Reader in Nineteenth Century Historical Indo-European Linguistics is available online (link) might be a great place to start. And let's not forget my favorite group the Junggrammatiker (Neo-Grammarians): Hermann Paul (we could start with his Prinzipien der Sprachgeschichte (available in English as Principles of the History of Language link), Karl Brugmann (link, link, and link), Berthold Delbrück (link, link, and link), Wilhelm Braune, Karl Verner, Hermann Osthoff, etc.

Holger Pedersen wrote a wonderful history of 19th century linguistcs in 1924 Sprogvidenskaben i det Nittende Aarhundrede. Metoder og Resulteter (translated as Linguistic Science in the Nineteenth Century: Methods and Results 1931). (I picked it up used in paperback years ago, and it is fun to dip into on occasion; it has lovely old etchings of some of the movers and shakers.) E.F.K. Koerner has also written and edited some important books on the historiography of linguistics. I'm sure we can get some names and texts there, too.

Let me know. Also we can prepend the subject line of the various reading groups with RG. For example, RG: Intro Lx.

[Addendum: Adding links to online books as I collect them.]

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Is Saussure online?
 
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None that I could find. Most books currently in print don't get scanned. But Brugmann/Deblrueck is and I believe it's still in print, so I can't say. I picked up a used hard cover for only five bucks or so (link).


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I suppose "textbook" was the wrong term to use. I don't really care if it is a "textbook" or not, but I do need to start at a fairly beginning level, which obviously isn't the case for neveu.

There's no hurry, neveu, but to think there are 15,000 books to get through puts me off a bit. Currently I am also reading all there is to read about interprofessional collaboration for a book chapter I am writing, as well as trying to get through a core literature reading list that David Denby recommended, starting with the Greeks. But I suppose I should be patient...
 
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OK, time for a decision. It's you, neveu, and yours truly. Let's start with Saussure. A little background. Modern linguistics falls into roughly three periods: historical-comparative linguistics (classical philology, Neo-Grammarian), structuralism, and generative. Ferdinand de Saussure made his name as a comparative-historical linguist in the second generation of Neo-Grammarians. He studied mainly in Germany and taught in France and Switzerland. The book we'll be reading was published posthumously, reconstructed by two of Saussure's students from the notes for several classes he taught. The original is in French, and there are two translations available: an older one by Wade Baskin (which I have) and a newer one by Ray Harris (who also wrote a commentary on the Course, which I do have). This book had a profound effect on linguistics starting the structuralist period. Structuralism also affected other academic fields, including anthropology and literary criticism. Chomsky, who started the third (generative) epoch, saw his work to be a reaction against both comparative historical and structuralist linguistics. Let me know when you both get the copy you'll be using.

[Addendum: Here's a photo of Saussure [1857-1913]:



]

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I got the book today, after a bit of a run-around. It looks complex (for those of us who are newbies), but fascinating. I have a major deadline July 7th (that collaboration chapter I've been writing is due then), so my time will be limited, but I will start it. I am so happy I was able to buy it, as now I'll be able to write in it, which always helps me when studying a book. The Baskin translation is available in our Evanston Library, as well as in Borders for $159. Instead I bought the $11 Roy Harris translated edition from the Barnes and Noble.
 
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Great. I'll start a new thread for the Saussure book.


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