Conditions of Use
Essentials of Linguistics is a fine online textbook to introduce the basics of linguistics to any university-level student without prior knowledge of linguistics and I thank the author for making it available at no cost to students. The... read more
Essentials of Linguistics is a fine online textbook to introduce the basics of linguistics to any university-level student without prior knowledge of linguistics and I thank the author for making it available at no cost to students.
The coverage of the five key areas (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics) is all pretty complete for an introductory textbook. The section on Gricean Maxims and indexicality are better than many other introductory textbooks, (except for the one odd comment about what counts as personal deixis). The bias against language use (like many other introductory textbooks) is seen here with no mention of speech act theory or interaction. Introductory textbooks often attempt to have a chapter on all areas of linguistics and those texts can serve as reference books for students. But what can actually be learned in one class of all that material is questionable. We have 10-week terms and find that in that amount of time we can only use about one third of the material in many introductory textbooks. Rather than treating topics like psycholinguistics or language acquisition in separate chapters, EOL has those topics interspersed throughout the textbook in relevant places. That said, I like the fact that there is a separate chapter on indigenous languages of North America. The text provides an effective index. There could be more exercises at the end of each chapter but I have plenty of supplementary problems and that is likely what the author intended.
Although in an introductory textbook, we cannot expect a range of theoretical perspectives to be even outlined but the theoretical grounding should be made explicit because students want to know. This text is grounded in an individualist, brain-centered approach to linguistics. The author does not state that theoretical bias explicitly but that is common practice in linguistics.
The content is accurate. The question of bias is tricky. It is grounded in a particular theoretical perspective of language and is consistent. I sometimes refer to that as a bias but I do not mean that in a pejorative sense.
The content is up-to-date but not overly trendy and this will not be dated in the near future.
The language is very accessible for someone without prior knowledge of linguistics. Technical jargon is necessary and it is explained.
The text is consistent in the claims made about how language works.
In general, the textbook has a flat structure (which is helpful for many students) breaking out key concepts into several chapters. For example, in a topic like ‘phonetics’, we have one chapter with sound production mechanisms and articulation and a second on IPA, suprasegmentals, and articulatory processes. To cover the five main topics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics) is done in 10 chapters, rather than five.
The organization is logical.
It was easy to navigate through the text both online and in pdf format with clear chapter names, headings, and subheadings. The only reason I give this section 4 rather than 5 is that I believe the online text could have used animation more to illustrate concepts, for example articulation, movement in syntax etc
I saw no infelicities regarding register, spelling conventions, etc
The text is not culturally insensitive or offensive in any way that I could see. There are few visual images of people but of those, people of color are represented. Names used have come from a range of ethnicities/histories.
I thank the author again. Unfortunately, regarding my wish for more animation in the online version, I cannot offer any help.
The areas and ideas presented in each chapter are covered appropriately and accurately. The text is comprehensive and accessible to students without prior knowledge of linguistics. Main theoretical areas of linguistics, i.e. phonetics, phonology,... read more
The areas and ideas presented in each chapter are covered appropriately and accurately. The text is comprehensive and accessible to students without prior knowledge of linguistics. Main theoretical areas of linguistics, i.e. phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, are covered in-depth, while some areas that are arguably essential to linguistics such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, language contact, etc., are only touched upon, but there are no chapters dedicated to them.
The content is accurate and error-free. The content is slightly biased towards Canadian English and Canadian linguistic diversity, but the author uses examples from various languages as well.
The content is up-to-date and relies on widely accepted theoretical approaches in linguistics that are unlikely to change anytime soon.
The book is very clear and accessible. Technical terminology and new concepts are well explained and supported with examples.
The terminology and frameworks presented in the book are consistent throughout the text.
Each chapter is divided into subchapters, which, in turn, are accompanied by a video lecture that is a narration of the text in the subchapter. Thus, students are able to obtain information either by reading the text or by watching the video lecture. Each subchapter has a short quiz so that students can check their knowledge of the covered material.
The book is well organized; the different topics are covered in a cohesive manner. The last chapter on indigenous languages in Canada covers very important topics related to linguistic diversity and language policies that are relevant to students outside of Canada as well. The last chapter adds to the more theoretical topics that have already been covered by discussing the link between language and society, but the transition into this chapter seems a bit abrupt.
The text is free of interface issues, videos, images, and charts presented in the text appear to be clear and work well in the online format. Links to video lectures are provided in the PDF version and images and charts are clear.
The text is free of grammatical errors.
It is somewhat obvious through various examples in the text that the book is meant for Canadian students. However, the text draws on examples from a variety of widely known and lesser-known languages from different continents and it highlights the fact that all languages are equivalent from a linguistic point of view.
This is a great textbook for linguistics classes that are oriented towards linguistic analysis meant for students without any prior knowledge in linguistics. It is a good introductory text to linguistics, but it doesn't cover some of the topics (e.g. origins of language, human language vs. animal communication, language and society, language and identity, language and cognition) that students tend to enjoy more than linguistic analysis in an introductory class.
The textbook offers a general overview of the major topics in linguistics, including phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The textbook also includes a chapter on indigenous languages in Canada, which could be an interesting... read more
The textbook offers a general overview of the major topics in linguistics, including phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The textbook also includes a chapter on indigenous languages in Canada, which could be an interesting addition to the typical content covered in introductory level linguistics courses offered at institutions in Canada. I am a bit surprised the textbook does not address the topics of pragmatics or language variation, which, in my opinion, would have offered a more comprehensive treatment of topics in linguistics.
Pages 131-132 of a printed version (section 4.1) include a note about an error in the video. Otherwise, I did not notice any factual errors in this text.
The online version of the textbook includes video components in which the author is delivering mini-lectures with clear explanations and interesting examples. Considering the potential target audience for this textbook, the manner of content delivery is very relevant and will be appealing to students with various learning styles.
The content of some of the chapters might be confusing if students are working with a pdf version of the textbook, as the script does not include any visuals and it is hard to understand what the lecturer is referring to without any visual support (e.g., in chapter 10 when the author discussed the elements of word meaning).
Also, there are very few references to empirical studies that are included directly in the text. In some sections, the findings are discussed but the research is referred to as “one study” or “researchers” without a clear indication of when those studies were conducted and by whom (e.g., p. 334 — a study in Montreal, also research discussed in section 10.3). This would make it difficult to track down the original work, in addition to not providing proper credits to the researchers.
Most chapters are developed following the same format: an overview of unit objectives, a lecture component for each chapter section (a video with a script in the online version) followed by a quiz, a set of activities to apply concepts to real-world scenarios, and a brief summary of the unit at the end. Because the content is presented in a very consistent manner, it would be easy to assign chapters for independent student work.
Each chapter is organized as a stand-alone unit. While the content is presented following a typical sequence (i.e., general introduction to the study of language - speech sounds - word forms, etc.), some chapters can also be assigned separately (e.g., as an additional resource to supplement instruction).
In the pdf version of the textbook, each section of each chapter is numbered (in addition to the traditional numbering, such as, Chapter 2, section 2.1, etc.). This double-numbering (for example, a section in chapter 2 is numbered as “8. 2.2 Articulation”) is a bit confusing.
Each chapter is organized following the same format. It would be helpful if the chapters included a glossary and a list of key words covered in the chapter as well as a list of additional readings and/or useful resources to explore further. I am not sure how the reference section was composed, because some of the research work mentioned in the chapters is not cited in the references (e.g., research on how babies distinguish sounds in chapter 5).
Back Matter: includes two sections (Testing Keys and Keys) that present identical content… I am not sure if this is done intentionally.
Once you select a chapter to view (online), the content panel disappears, so it is not very easy to go between sections of the book (and within a single chapter too), as a reader would need to scroll back to the content and then open that menu again to select a different section.
I appreciated that a student is able to read the transcript of the recorded text (in case if the internet connection is not available). Also, a link to the answer sections makes it easy to check the answers as one is listening to the video and going through the questions. At some point when I was viewing the videos from the textbook site, one of the videos for chapter 1 went mute (and I had good internet connection). I had to go to the youtube channel to continue watching the video.
In the pdf version, some tables are cut off (e.g., p.161, ex. 3; p.205; p.257).
The text is free of grammatical errors. The language is clear and accessible.
The last chapter on indigenous languages in Canada offers interesting cultural information, but this content might not be relevant to pedagogical contexts outside of Canada (as several previous reviewers have noted already). A logical addition to this text would be a chapter on cross-linguistic pragmatics or language variation to make it more appealing to a wider audience.
The text provides a comprehensive introduction to phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. However, it does not adequately cover sociolinguistics or historical linguistics, which are usually included in introductory linguistics... read more
The text provides a comprehensive introduction to phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. However, it does not adequately cover sociolinguistics or historical linguistics, which are usually included in introductory linguistics courses. "Accent" is discussed in Chapter 2, but other features of language variation are not included. I did not see an index or glossary, both of which would be welcome additions.
The linguistic content is accurate and I did not perceive any bias.
The content is up-to-date and should remain relevant for some time. There are a few examples that will eventually become outdated (such as hockey players or the prime minister), but these are minor and can easily be updated.
The text is very clearly written and will be highly accessible to undergraduate students. The author builds gradually on new concepts, and new terminology is explained with examples.
The text is consistent in the organization of chapters and use of terminology. However, I agree with an earlier reviewer that the section on indigenous languages, while interesting and relevant, feels somewhat disconnected since it does not incorporate many of the formal features of linguistics covered in the earlier sections.
The textbook is divided into relatively short, self-contained sections, each with its own comprehension checks. It would be easy for an instructor to assign sections in a different order.
Topics are presented in the standard order, starting with phonetics and phonology, and then moving to morphology and syntax. As noted above on modularity, an instructor could easily assign chapters in a different order if desired.
For the most part, it is easy to navigate among the text, videos, questions, and answer keys. The only exceptions are a few places in the text where the reader is directed to materials from How Language Works: The Cognitive Science of Linguistics. At these points, the reader is directed to a table of contents and has to search for the corresponding sections.
I detected a few minor typos, but otherwise the writing is grammatical.
The text is culturally sensitive. The section on indigenous languages in Canada provides a much needed viewpoint on linguistic diversity, minority languages, and government oppression of indigenous peoples and language rights.
This is a clear and highly accessible introductory text for undergraduate students. The presentation of basic concepts in phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax are clearly presented and easy to follow. The modularity of the chapters and the inclusion of video lectures that are fully transcribed make the text flexible and appropriate for use in different instructional formats. Comprehension exercises are interspersed throughout the text, although I would probably want to supplement these with additional practice. One drawback of the book is that it does not include chapters on sociolinguistics or historical linguistics. For those of us who teach in the United States, the focus on Canadian English and indigenous languages of Canada might make the book less appealing to our U.S students. Overall, however, this is an outstanding introductory text that could easily suit the needs of students outside of Canada with some occasional explanation and supplemental materials.
The textbook covers the major areas of linguistics which are essential to understanding other subareas of the field such as historical linguistics and sociolinguistics. However, the aforementioned are not covered in this textbook. Despite... read more
The textbook covers the major areas of linguistics which are essential to understanding other subareas of the field such as historical linguistics and sociolinguistics. However, the aforementioned are not covered in this textbook. Despite omission, author successfully intersperses aspects of psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, language acquisition, and second language acquisitions in the chapters that cover phonology, morphology and syntax. Also, the author directly deals social issues such as language contact, linguistic discrimination, language preservation, revitalization, documentation, and alludes to issues involving race and social justice which is a developing area of raciolinguistics.
The content of this textbook is very accessible to first year students who are interested in linguistics or who have to take a Science or liberal arts elective. The textbook provides information that is accurate and consistent with current theory.
The textbook presents current research on indigenous languages of North America, which is an underserved areas of study, uses modern theories of linguistics, and provides illustration that are relevant and up to date.
The language of this textbook is accessible to first year students and the style in which the author writes is conducive to the colloquial speech used in the modern day classroom.
The textbook is easy to navigate and features hypertext links through out. The chapters are evenly divided into palpable sections with activities to complete at the end of each.
The textbook is easy to navigate, it features hypertext links through out. Chapters as evenly divided into palable sections with activities to complete at the end of each.
The topics in the textbook proceed in the order commonly taken up in linguistics, which follows the order in which language is acquired beginning with phonetic, phonology, morphology, syntax, and ends with semantics.
The textbook does not contain any insensitive or offensive use of language. It provides a much needed treatment of indigenous languages in the Canadian North American region.
To my knowledge, there are no grammatical errors present in the textbook.
The textbook does not contain in insentive or offensive use of language. It provides a much need treatment of indigenous languages in the Canadian North American regions.
This is a great introductory textbook for Linguistics.
Very useful introduction to the main subcategories of linguistics. Some additional units on sociolinguistics, pragmatics, writing systems, and sign language would be useful. read more
Very useful introduction to the main subcategories of linguistics. Some additional units on sociolinguistics, pragmatics, writing systems, and sign language would be useful.
The book seems to be accurate as far as I can discern.
Very relevant. Some references are geared towards this current moment with exercises referencing current geopolitics and famous people.
Very easy to read and understand with a clear organizational structure. All terms are fully introduced.
Excellent use of short sections, breaking up subjects and checking knowledge with frequent exercises.
Fantastic organization, all topics clearly presented.
No problems with interface that I can detect. I appreciate the fact that most charts are machine-readable for students with disabilities.
No grammatical "errors" that I can detect.
Very inclusive, though focused on Canadian English.
This is a well-presented introduction to linguistics that is very accessible for introductory students. The text is extremely well-organized, making use of multiple modes of presentation that compliment one another. I particularly appreciate the accessibility of this text with fully-transcribed video lectures, charts that are able to be text-selected and machine-read. Each section is complimented by a few exercises with a link to answers so students can check their understanding as they read. The one possible problem that I can see (at least in my case, since I am American) is that the book focuses on Canadian English. Fortunately, there are plenty of American resources for linguistics, so I will still be using this textbook with just a few resources to compliment it. This is a fantastic find!
The explanations are very clear and adequate as an introductory source. The comprehension exercises help the reader and can also help the instructor check for students' comprehension. The video segments facilitate understanding as well. read more
The explanations are very clear and adequate as an introductory source. The comprehension exercises help the reader and can also help the instructor check for students' comprehension. The video segments facilitate understanding as well.
The content is clear throughout. The book has a cognitive approach to language and it focuses on generative linguistics. For linguists who work on other approaches to language, some sections will still prove very useful, especially the section on native languages.
It provides the essentials of generative linguistics. The section of phonology will stay updated for a long time, the contents of syntax might be outdated but only because generative syntax theory is dynamic.
It is very clear and scaffolded
It is an introductory book to generative linguistics with a strong emphasis on phonology and phonetics. However, the last section of the book is on indigenous languages in Canada, which adds value to the book but it in a way that feels a bit disconnected from the rest, since it does not include many of the formal aspects previously seen and it is mostly the transcript of an interview. Nonetheless, there are exercises that make the student/reader put into practice what they have previously learned.
Each section is written and organized in such a way that it is possible to assign only certain sections, that is, specific chapters. The only odd thing is that each chapter is also called a "Part", e.g., "Part X. Chapter 10: Word Meaning", instead of simply "Chapter 10". In future editions, it might be useful to add commonly used names in linguistics to each chapter, e.g., "syntax" for chapter 8.
The book follows the conventional sequence: sounds, words, phrases, sentences.
The link to the videos work well once the book is downloaded from the pdf. The preset volume level is low for some videos
The message "A YouTube element has been excluded from this version of the text" is a little odd. Overall, I had no issues reading it from my computer.
The table on p. 205 seems chopped.
It is well written, I saw no grammatical errors.
The text is not culturally insensitive as far as I could see
This is a very useful introductory book to generative linguistics. However, the first part is inclusive of many linguistics approaches to language, especially tackling common misconceptions about what linguists do. The section on phonetics and phonology are well developed, but much more so than other sections of the book. The last section, on indigenous languages, can also be used for approaches other than generative. The explanations on parts of speech are very clear and intuitive, and can be used for L2 teaching or basic grammar courses. The fact that it is an electronic book allows for some nice features: jumping between sections, searching for terms, and links to short videos. All videos come with a script so the reader can choose to watch or read them. The comprehension exercises and the accessibility of the answers make it user friendly. It is a very good supplementary textbook. In describing verb agreement (p.192), where both Spanish and French are mentioned, only the French forms are used to illustrate agreement, but this is a bit odd because orally, Spanish has more differences than French, and can indeed, drop subject pronouns.
As the author's summary and other reviews have stated, this textbook covers several subfields of linguistics but not all. Sociolinguistics is mentioned by name precisely once. Some attention is paid to variation, but the discussion is mostly under... read more
As the author's summary and other reviews have stated, this textbook covers several subfields of linguistics but not all. Sociolinguistics is mentioned by name precisely once. Some attention is paid to variation, but the discussion is mostly under the term "accent" and within the English language, rather than highlighting that all languages have varieties that differ in morphology, syntax, and lexicon as well as in "accent". While not every topic can be covered in depth, a linguistics textbook that doesn't include this major subfield wouldn't work by itself for my introductory course. There is also nothing about signed languages. The section on indigenous languages and language revitalisation (focusing on Mohawk) is a valuable unit, though more specific than the rest of the text.
The content is accurate and written from a disciplinary perspective.
The content is up-to-date and should remain relevant.
The book is clearly and engagingly written. The conversational tone is a major strength in an introductory textbook.
The chapters are well-structured and important terms are consistently bolded.
The chapters are a good length to be assigned as class readings. Some explanations are ordered differently than how I would assign them. For example, in the syntax chapter, tree diagrams are explained before the concept of constituents is introduced. However, it would be relatively straightforward to tailor readings by assigning specific sections of chapters.
The chapter order makes sense. A glossary and/or index would be helpful.
The interface seemed clear and easy to use. I was able to watch the embedded videos.
As the author's summary states, the book is aimed at anglophone Canadian students. It could be assigned to students in the United States without any changes beyond mentioning this fact and bringing local examples up in class.
On the whole, this is a valuable resource for an introductory linguistics course that could be supplemented with readings on sociolinguistics and signed languages.
The textbook's strength lies in the comprehensive review of the following areas of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The textbook does not sufficiently address other areas typically covered in introductory... read more
The textbook's strength lies in the comprehensive review of the following areas of linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The textbook does not sufficiently address other areas typically covered in introductory courses in linguistics, but, as the title suggests, the aim was to cover the essentials.
Linguistic content is accurate in the textbook.
The textbook content is relevant in 2019 and will not age any time soon. The main topic deals with the foundations of linguistics as a science and will stand the test of time. The Canadian references are both the strength and the weakness of this text: they contextualize the usage within Canadian English but also limit the usability of the textbook outside of Canada/North America.
This is a very clearly written text with enough examples to introduce, situate, and contextualize linguistic terminology. It is written with a lay audience in mind and can be used successfully in introductory courses in linguistics.
The chapters and the units are very consistently organized with video and practice supplements guiding the reader.
The text is easily adaptable thanks to the modular organization. The chapter lengths are very appropriate for college students in introductory courses. The units within chapters allow some reordering. For example, I would have liked the chapters on language acquisition to be more condensed, but with some reordering personal preferences of the instructors can be easily accommodated.
The content in the textbook is ordered in a canonical and predictable ways for any instructor of linguistics. Textbook modularity allows for easy reordering and supplementation.
The text worked well for me both online and as a PDF. One needs a reliable Internet access to use the YouTube videos which contain important complementary additions to the printed text.
Text presentation is free of language errors.
As mentioned earlier, the Canadian references are both the strength and the weakness of this text: they contextualize the usage within Canadian English but also limit the usability of the textbook outside of Canada/North America.
The textbook can serve as the main text in an introductory course in linguistics, but, depending on the syllabus, some supplemental materials may be needed for the topics that may not be considered as interesting by generative linguists, such as social use of language (discourse analysis, pragmatics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, and language literacy). It is very effective in explaining the topics that it does address. The text is aimed at the Canadian learner with a focus on Canadian English. Some adaptation is needed to use it in the United States, for example.
Overall, this is an excellent introductory text in linguistics and first of its kind on the Open Textbook Network.
The text doesn't aim to be comprehensive, omitting, for example, historical linguistics, pragmatics, and conversation structures. As far as I can tell, there is no index and no glossary. read more
The text doesn't aim to be comprehensive, omitting, for example, historical linguistics, pragmatics, and conversation structures. As far as I can tell, there is no index and no glossary.
The few errors I observed were already noted in the text.
The text is current. I can imagine updates that would supplement the material by expanding the topics discussed, but I don't think material will go out of date.
The text is very approachable for a general audience, & I can imagine it working well even with students in their 1st or 2nd years.
The chapters are all structured in similar ways, and chapters look forward to new material & backward to learned material effectively.
The chapter lengths are reasonable for college students, and material in each chapter can easily be covered in 1 or 2 class periods. The materials follow a logical sequence that would still allow some reordering.
The text follows a logical order, starting with phonetics and working toward ever larger units of meaning.
The text worked well for me both online and as a PDF. The only significant issue I can foresee would involve using the PDF without access to the internet. The YouTube videos contain some explanatory material not present in the transcriptions of the videos, so lack of access to the internet would reduce the effectiveness of the explanations.
I didn't notice any grammatical errors.
The text explicitly addresses indigenous languages of Canada and how other non-Western languages can be approached by Western observers.
The text doesn't set out to be comprehensive. It is very effective in explaining the topics that it does address. My biggest concern for classroom use as a main text is that it doesn't include many problem sets for students to work through.
The text provides videos and audio scripts to illustrate aspects relevant to the topic in discussion. read more
The text provides videos and audio scripts to illustrate aspects relevant to the topic in discussion.
To the best of my knowledge, the information presented in the text is accurate. Indigenous languages cover only those from Canada.
It is unlikely that the text will become obsolete since the main topic deals with the foundations of linguistics as a science.
The text is written with clarity and provides many examples too illustrates the main ideas.
The text is consistent in its presentation of the topic, followed by an audio and audio script, practice exercises and answers.
The text is divided between thirteen chapters, each of the chapters contains subchapters of smaller easier to read and follow sections.
Very well organized and didactic in my opinion.
The interface of the book does not display features that may distract the reader. Images and charts are clear and well presented.
No noticeable grammatical errors.
The section of indigenous languages covers indigenous languages of Canada only.
The text is an excellent resource for an introductory course in linguistics at the beginner or intermediate level. Every chapter in the text contains clear and didactic videos with video scripts, illustrations, IPA charts, that better illustrate the topics under examination. The text is aimed at the Canadian learner with a focus on Canadian English, however, the material can be used for any type of linguistics learner. In addition, this resource can be useful as a standalone or as a supplemental teaching material.
Table of Contents
- Part I. Chapter 1: Thinking Like a Linguist
- Part II. Chapter 2: Producing Speech Sounds
- Part III. Chapter 3: Transcribing Speech Sounds
- Part IV. Chapter 4: Speech Sounds in the Mind
- Part V. Chapter 5: Psycholinguistics of Learning Sounds
- Part VI. Chapter 6: Word Forms
- Part VII. Chapter 7: Combining Words
- Part VIII. Chapter 8: Forming Sentences
- Part IX. Chapter 9: Sentence Structure and Meaning
- Part X. Chapter 10: Word Meanings
- Part XI. Chapter 11: Indigenous Languages
- Part XII. Back Matter Test
About the Book
This Open Educational Resource (OER) brings together Open Access content from around the web and enhances it with dynamic video lectures about the core areas of theoretical linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics), supplemented with discussion of psycholinguistic and neurolinguistic findings. Essentials of Linguistics is suitable for any beginning learner of linguistics but is primarily aimed at the Canadian learner, focusing on Canadian English for learning phonetic transcription, and discussing the status of Indigenous languages in Canada. Drawing on best practices for instructional design, Essentials of Linguistics is suitable for blended classes, traditional lecture classes, and for self-directed learning. No prior knowledge of linguistics is required.
About the Contributors
Catherine Anderson is a Teaching Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Languages at McMaster University. She earned a Ph.D. in Linguistics from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Dr. Anderson c onducts research on undergraduate learning and curriculum in linguistics. She lives in Hamilton, Ontario, with her partner and their school-aged twins.