Book Review: “Understand Linguistics”

I just finished another book about linguistics. It was always a challenging, but interesting subject. This book touches on many areas and provides a list at the end for anyone interested in further reading.

Understand Linguistics by Jean Aitchison

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This is a very informative book for anyone interested in understanding linguistics – how languages developed and how they work (i.e. grammar). This is not a book that is meant for learning a second language. It speaks of how languages function, but no vocabulary or grammar is provided (except for examples of differences between languages). It is written in English.

Some examples are given throughout the book of unique circumstances, such as children who did not develop language because they were either locked in a room and punished for making noise. This girl never developed any speech. Neither did a boy who was thought to be raised by wild animals (purportedly wolves).

– “The [brain] hemispheres look roughly similar, but this is an illusion. One of them, usually the left, is the more powerful dominant hemisphere. This is not only because it controls the right side of the body – and the majority of humans are right-handed – but also because it normally controls language. Approximately 90 per cent of the human race are born with their brains ‘wired’ for language in the left hemisphere. Humans who do not have language in their left hemisphere are often, though not inevitably, left-handers. This much is fairly uncontroversial.” – p.175

– “Those who have problems with speech production, such as agrammatic aphasiacs, mostly have injuries towards the front of the brain, while those who have problems with comprehension, such as fluent aphasiacs, have injuries towards th back.” – p. 175 under “Insight”

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