The Social Art: Language and Its Uses

Ronald K. S. Macaulay, Author
Ronald K. S. Macaulay, Author Oxford University Press, USA $30 (256p) ISBN 978-0-19-508382-8
Paperback - 256 pages - 978-0-19-510657-2
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Despite its academic flavor, this survey of language will entertain the general reader. Its 33 short chapters range from children's language acquisition to semantics, syntax, creoles and language around the world. Macaulay, a linguistics professor at Pitzer College in California, highlights unspoken rules of conversation, decodes the puffery of advertisements, considers the finer points of insults and swearing and explains how the interactive nature of language affects what we say and how we say it. Calling Standard English a ``nonregional dialect'' promulgated by an educated minority, he argues that it may not be superior to nonstandard dialects in its logic, regularity or beauty. He also disputes the popular ``linguistic relativity theory,'' finding insufficient evidence for its proponents' claim that people's thought processes are molded by the particular language they speak. (Mar.)
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