November 23, 2013

The Speculative Grammarian Essential Guide to Linguistics by Trey Jones

So I'm one of those lazy people who only got a degree in Linguistics (pg. 121). But that Linguistics 101 course just totally drew me in and the world was never the same. After all, who wouldn't want a Linguistics degree? So I took my new shiny degree out into the world, and promptly discovered that in order to be marketable, potential job prospects actually have to know what your degree is. I'm now working with data. So I think that's what really made me appreciate this book, the fun "choose your own story" Choose Your Own Career In Linguistics sections of the book.

This guide to Linguistics is almost entirely satire. Taking articles referencing various fields of linguistics; Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics, Socio-Linguistics, Typology, Applied Linguistics, and more, there's something for everyone in here. And by everyone I mean those that enjoy language and actually want to know what the different words I just mention actually mean. Because it is satire, most of the studies are not going to be real references to the real world, but mirrors of what could be.

With all the different contributors to this book, it was actually kind of surprising that the writing style in all of the articles is mostly the same. Sure a lot of the contributors are not actually real, but there was more than one contributor. I had a few favorite articles. "An Introduction to Familial Linguistics" was spot on and since I'm a big fan of socio-linguistics, it was a stand out for me. "Rating the World's Languages" was an interesting look at the language myth that some languages are better than others. With all the interesting articles though, there were a plethora that made me feel like an idiot and the need to hand in my Linguistics card. Indeed, if you have not perused the textbooks in awhile, some of the articles on syntax, topology, and others can make your head spin. Although die-hard linguists will go crazy for it.

The format of the book was mostly good. I really did enjoy the choose your own story for a career in Linguistics and like most choose your own, it had you flipping pages back and forth to see how you'd end up. The article format was nice too because you could take the book in as big or small does as you'd like and choose what area you wanted to read about. Depending on your mood, you can immerse yourself in syntax or phonetics at will. My only real complaint about this book would be some of the pictures. There were a lot that were hand drawn and while they weren't quite bad photo-copier quality, some were hard to read unless you really zoomed in (e-book format). They just could have been a little clearer to give the full impact, especially when some had accompanied hand-written labels, which is already hard to read compared to typing. But since that's my biggest complaint, then obviously this book is doing pretty good when it comes to content.

A definite must read for Linguists or those who just like language and have some time on their hands. It made me have some fond memories of tape recorders and the numerous ways people can pronounce a vowel.

**I received this book as a free advanced reader's copy**

The Speculative Grammarian
Copyright 2013
339 pages

PS: I want to be a vowelkyrie.

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