Language Myths

About the Author

Peter Trudgill and Laurie Bauer are both respected linguists. Trudgill has written many books for Penguin (including Sociolinguistics, which has sold 130,000 copies since it was first published in 1974). Other contributors include Jean Atchison (Professor of Language at Oxford), Lars Gunnar-Andersson (co-author of Bad Language with Trudgill) and Janet Holmes (Women, Men and Politeness, 1995, Longman). Peter Trudgill lives in Lausanne (and sometimes Norwich.) Laurie Bauer lives in New Zealand.


 The topics discussed focus on some of the most popular myths about language:

The Media Are Ruining English;

Children Can’t Speak or Write Properly Anymore; America is Ruining the English Language. The tone is lively and entertaining throughout, and there are cartoons from Doonesbury another Wizard of I’d to illustrate some of the points. The book should have a wide readership, not only amongst students who want to read leading linguists writing about popular misconceptions, but also amongst the large number of people who enjoy reading about language in general.

Language is a part of us all and is tightly woven into human experience. Yet, although research into language has increased at a phenomenal rate over the last fifty years, misconceptions abound.

This illuminating and highly readable collection of essays explores some myths, for example:

standards of children’s speech and writing have declined; women talk too much; the ‘purity’ of the English language is under threat; some languages are more attractive to the ear or are harder to learn than others; the media has a detrimental effect on language. These widely held views are questioned and shown to be based on inadequate or false information, or simply, not to be true. Other essays explore spelling problems, attitudes towards accents, controversies over changes in language, and the belief that some languages have no grammar.


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