Are Some Languages Better than Others? by R. M. W. DixonAre Some Languages Better than Others? by R. M. W. Dixon

Are Some Languages Better than Others?

byR. M. W. Dixon

Hardcover | April 18, 2017

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This book sets out to answer a question that many linguists have been hesitant to ask: are some languages better than others? Can we say, for instance, that because German has three genders and French only two, German is a better language in this respect? Jarawara, spoken in the Amazonianjungle, has two ways of showing possession: one for a part (e.g. 'Father's foot") and the other for something which is owned and can be given away or sold (e.g. "Father's knife"); is it thus a better language than English, which marks all possession in the same way?R. M. W. Dixon begins by outlining what he feels are the essential components of any language, such as the ability to pose questions, command actions, and provide statements. He then discusses desirable features including gender agreement, tenses, and articles, before concluding with his view ofwhat the ideal language would look like - and an explanation of why it does not and probably never will exist. Written in the author's usual accessible and engaging style, and full of personal anecdotes and unusual linguistic phenomena, the book will be of interest to all general languageenthusiasts as well as to a linguistics student audience, and particularly to anyone with an interest in linguistic typology.
R. M. W. Dixon is Adjunct Professor and Deputy Director of the Language and Culture Research Centre at James Cook University. He has written extensively on a number of Australian and Amazonian languages, as well as on ergativity, semantics, and English grammar. His many books include The Rise and Fall of Languages (CUP 1997), Basic Lin...
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Title:Are Some Languages Better than Others?Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 8.5 × 5.31 × 0.85 inPublished:April 18, 2017Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198766815

ISBN - 13:9780198766810

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Table of Contents

Preface1. Setting the scene2. How languages work3. What is necessary4. What is desirable5. What is not (really) needed6. How about complexity?7. How many words should there be?8. The limits of a language9. Better for what purpose?10. An ideal language11. Facing up to the questionNotes and sourcesAbbreviationsAcknowledgementsReferencesIndex