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Module Reading List

The Life Cycle of Languages, 2019/20
Dr Diane Nelson
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue

You are responsible for reading independently for this module. The topics covered are quite new to linguistics and no one textbook is available (yet!) that covers all of the material. During the lectures, recommended reading may come in the form of referenced work. This work may be an article, a book, or even a website.

The main references for the module:

Aitchison, J. (2000) The seeds of speech : language origin and evolution (2nd ed). Cambridge: Canto.

Crystal, D. (2000) Language death. Cambridge: CUP.

Hurford, J (2014) The origins of language : a slim guide. Oxford: OUP.

Nettle, D. & S. Romaine (2000) Vanishing voices : the extinction of the world's languages. Oxford: OUP.

Pereltsvaig, A. (2012) Languages of the world : an introduction. Cambridge: CUP.

Pereltsvaig, A. (2018) Languages of the world : an introduction (2nd ed). Cambridge: CUP.

Pinker, Steven (1994) The language instinct : the new science of language and mind. Morrow.

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Useful secondary readings for individual topics:

Language origins

Bickerton, Derek (1995) Language and human behavior. University of Washington Press.

Hauser, M., N. Chomsky, & T. Fitch (2002) The faculty of language. Science. 298:1569-1579.

Christiansen, Morten and Simon Kirby (eds) Language evolution. Oxford University Press.

Corballis, Michael C. (2002) From hand to mouth : the origins of language. Princeton: Princeton University Press

Deacon, Terrence (1997) The symbolic species : the co-evolution of language and the human brain.. Allen Lane

Dunbar, Robin (1996) Grooming, gossip and the evolution of language. Faber and Faber.

Gould, S.J. and Lewontin, R.C. (1979). The spandrels of San Marco and the Panglossian paradigm: A critique of the adaptationist programme. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. Series B, Biological sciences, 205(1161):581-598  

Hauser, Marc D. (1996) The evolution of communication. MIT Press.

Hurford, J. (2003) The Neural Basis of Predicate-Argument Structure. Behavioral and Brain Sciences., 26(3):261-283.

Hurford, J., M. Studdert-Kennedy and C. Knight (eds) (1998) Approaches to the evolution of language : social and cognitive bases. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Jackendoff, Ray (2002) Foundations of language : brain, meaning, grammar, evolution. Oxford University Press.

Jones, Steve, Robert Martin, and David Pilbeam (eds)(1992) The Cambridge encyclopedia of human evolution. Cambridge University Press.

Knight, Chris, Michael Studdert-Kennedy, James R. Hurford (eds)(2000) The Evolutionary emergence of language : social function and the origins of linguistic form. CUP.

Lieberman, Philip (1984) The biology and evolution of language. Harvard University Press.

Pinker, Steven & Paul Bloom (1990) Natural language and natural selection. Behavioral and Brain Sciences. 13, 707-84.

Pinker, S. and Jackendoff, R. (2005) The Faculty of Language: What's Special about it? Cognition ISSN: 0010-0277, 95(2):201--236

Tallerman Maggie (ed) (2005) Language origins : perspectives on evolution. Oxford : Oxford University Press.

Wray, Alison (ed) (2002) The transition to language. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Language prehistory and diversity

Campbell, Lyle and William J. Poser (2008) Language classification : history and method CUP.

Cavalli-Sforza, Luigi Luca (2000) Genes, peoples and languages. Allen Lane.

Diamond, Jared. (1997) Guns, germs and steel : a short history of everybody for the last 13,000 years. Cape.

McMahon, April (1994) Understanding language change. CUP.

Language endangerment and death

Dalby, Andrew (2003) Language in danger. London: Penguin.

Dixon, R.M.W. (1997) The rise and fall of languages. CUP.

Fishman Joshua A. ed. (2001) Can threatened languages be saved? : reversing language shift, revisited : a 21st century perspective. Multilingual Matters.

Grenoble, L. & L. Whaley (1998) Endangered languages : language loss and community response. CUP.

Krauss, M. (1992) The world’s languages in crisis. Language. 68:4-10.

Ladefoged, Peter (1992) Another view of endangered languages. Language. 68:809-11.

Ostler Nicholas. (2005) Empires of the word : a language history of the world. London: Harper Collins

Sutherland, W.J. (2003) Parallel extinction risk and global distribution of languages and species. Nature. 423:276-9.

…and don’t forget to use the web (selectively)! There is a lot of useful material out there.

McWhorter, John (2003) The power of Babel : a natural history of language. Heinemann.

Nettle, D. (1998). Explaining global patterns of language diversity. Journal of anthropological archaeology. 17:354-74.

Nettle, Daniel (1999) Linguistic diversity Oxford University Press.

Nichols, Johanna (1992) Linguistic diversity in space and time. University of Chicago Press.

Mufwene, Salikoko S. (2001) The ecology of language evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Romaine, S. (1988) Pidgin and Creole languages.. Longman.

Thangaraj K., Singh L., Reddy A.G., Rao V.R., Sehgal S.C., Underhill P.A., Pierson M., Frame I.G. & Hagelberg E. (2003) Genetic affinities of the Andaman Islanders, a vanishing human population. Current biology. 13:86-93

This list was last updated on 10/03/2019