This bibliography is a compilation of relevant works, including full references to the course readings and additional works that I myself have found particularly influential in my own understanding of language and the field of Linguistics. I've also included references that have come up in discussion in the versions of the class I have taught. The class has been taught in 2006, 2008, and 2009.
Some of the references are annotated in colored block quotes text, to connect them with the various parts in the Course Schedule, specific discussions in class, or the essays I have been writing about the various readings (finished ones are linked left).
This annotated bibliography is obviously not a complete list of all readings relevant to the foundational ideas of modern linguistics. However, familiarity with the works below, particularly the older classics, will make you much better prepared as a professional linguist than many other graduate students trying to break into the field. Take the opportunity to learn about how the discipline arose and became what it is and it will deepen and enrich your understanding and your enjoyment of linguistic ideas.
Benveniste, Emil. 1958 . Categories of thought and language. Problems in General Linguistics. Coral Gables, FL: University of Miami Press, 1971.
Bloomfield, Leonard. 1914 . An Introduction to the Study of Language. Reprint of the original 1914 text, with Introduction by Joseph Kess. (Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, Series II, Classics in Psycholinguistics, v. 3.) Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1983.
Bloomfield, Leonard. 1933. Language, 2nd revised edition. New York: Henry Holt and Co.
This is an extensive revision of Bloomfield (1914) above (even the title is changed). It shows the end stage of the transformation of Bloomfield into a behaviorist. It is quite interesting to compare the two texts to see the evolution of his thought. Both are written in a very readable style.
Bloomfield, Leonard. 1939. Linguistic Aspects of Science. (International Encyclopedia of Unified Science, v.1, no.4). Chicago, Ill.: University of Chicago Press.
Boas, Franz. 1889. On alternating sounds. American Anthropologist 2, 47-53.
Boas, Franz. 1911  Introduction to the Handbook of American Indian languages. Vol. 1, no. 1. Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1911-1922. (Bulletin, Smithsonian Institution, Bureau of American Ethnology 40). Reprinted 1966 in a volume edited by Preston Holder. Lincoln and London: University of Nebraska Press. Paperback edition 1991.
Brugmann, Karl, and Bertold Delbrück. 1886-1893. (2nd revised edition 1897-1916.)Grundriss der vergleichenden Grammatik der indogermanischen Sprachen. (Outline of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-European languages.) Strassburg: Trübner. English translation (of the first edition): Elements of the Comparative Grammar of the Indo-Germanic Languages, translated by Joseph Wright, R.S. Conway, and W.H.D. Rouse, 1888-95. Strassburg: Trübner.
This masterly compendium presents a rethinking of all the results of comparative linguistics of the 19th century along Neogrammarian lines.
Volumes I and II, on Phonology and Morphology, respectively, were written by Brugmann, and Volumes III, IV and V were on Syntax and written by Delbrück. Brugmann later revised his volumes extensively, and the original two volumes (I and II of the first edition) turned into four, published between 1897 and 1916. This reworked second edition still represents the state of the art on many areas of Indo-European linguistics. Later comparative linguistic studies of early Indo-European languages mainly went into greater depth on certain new or unsolved problems of phonology and morphology, fleshed out minor points in the grammar, or attempted reconstruction more systematically.
This is not to say that IE studies stopped or no longer progressed after the Grundriss. Indo-Eurpean etymological work continued and culminated in important dictionaries of Indo-Eurpean roots such as the one by Pokorny; the comparative study of the individual branches like Romance, Germanic, Slavic, and Celtic flourished for another half century; two newly discovered Indo-European languages, Hittite and Tocharian, were decoded from ancient manuscripts and incorporated into the fabric of knowledge about Indo-European; and many interpretations of Indo-European culture and society based on linguistic evidence appeared, right up through the 1960s. Also, attempts to link the Indo-Europeans with archaeological evidence and prove something about their origins, periods of migration, and role in cultural transmission of inventions such as the wheel and agriculture have been popular since Brugmann's day and continue through the present time. The linguistic study of Indo-European, though, was largely eclipsed in the 20th century as Linguistics shifted its primary emphasis to synchronic and structural perspectives.
Bühler, Karl. 1934. Sprachtheorie. Jena: Gustav Fischer.
Compare Bühler's model with Saussure's model of the communicative act, which it resembles in certain respects. Both seem to be based on the Conduit Metaphor, a kind of folk model for understanding language.
Chomsky, Noam. 1957. Syntactic Structures. (Janua Linguarum series minor 4). Den Haag: Mouton.
Chomsky, Noam. 1965. Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.
Corballis, Michael. 2002. From Hand to Mouth: The Origins of Language. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Makes the case that gestural communication evolved into a human language system first, then spoken language was added as a supplement, until finally spoken language became primary. language. Contrast with work of the gesture researcher David McNeill, who maintains that language and gesture must have evolved simultaneously from the start.
Delbrück, Berthold. 1880 . Einleitung in das Studium der Indogermanischen Sprachen, 4th edition, 1904. Leipzig: Breitkopf and Härtel.
Diamond, Jared. 1997. Guns, germs and steel. W.W. Norton and Co.
This book is a study of how human populations in different parts of the world developed differently over the last 13,000 years or so based on the accidental ecological conditions and biodiversity that various geographical groups happened to find around them. This modern view contrasts with some prevalent 19th century views we discussed in connection with the Boas reading, in which differences in social organization, technology, and language were considered to result from differences in innate mental endowments (or possibly some intrinsic basic cultural endowments that allowed the further development of more advanced and 'superior' cultures. It is hard to distinguish between the genetic and the cultural hypotheses because they are not spelled out and argued for by the 19th century protagonists and their modern descendents.)
Durkheim, Émile. 1895. The Rules of Sociological Method. Collier-Macmillan.
Durkheim was the founder of the field of Sociology and its basic methodologies. No direct connection between him and his compatriot Saussure seems have existed (at least as far as I have researched the question), but presumably some of the ideas that are similar in their work were 'in the air' in Geneva during the time that both were at the University of Geneva.
W. D. Elcock. 1975. [First ed. 1960]. The Romance Languages. (The Great Languages series.) 2nd edition revised with a new introduction by John N. Green. London, Faber & Faber, 1975.
This was one of my favorite books when I was an undergraduate, introduced to me by Hector Urrutibeheity, of Hispanic Studies here, now retired. It's a very readable introduction to the Romance languages by a well-known and knowledgable scholar of Romance. It includes enough external history to set Romance in its proper historical context from the Romans to the modern languages. The author wanted to set the linguistic history, which he knew well, into "the whole European saga", in order to contribute to humanistic studies of Europe (cf. Lionel Friedman's review in Modern Philology 60(4), 307-309). But it's the linguistic part that particularly fascinated me: the major sound changes for each language that allowed me to see how the modern languages relate to Latin (which I was learning the basics of at the time). I loved to be able to identify modern cognates and see how the sound changes had operated. I had studied Spanish and for the first time saw that familiar words like amigo 'friend' were directly descended from Latin words like amicus by regular sound change, and/or sometimes by interesting exceptional but still understandable types of irregular sound change (like Spanish olvidar from Latin oblitare, with metathesis). Perhaps because I was quite young at the time, a lot of those changes have stuck in my mind and still give me a fund of examples for talking about historical linguistics. I drew from examples in a Spring 2008 class discussion of regular sound change (in connection with the part of the course on the Neogrammarians and Osthoff and Brugmann (1878).
The Rice library no longer has this book and it is out of print. I don't really want to buy a copy online, although if I came across it for a reasonable price in a used bookstore I would buy it. Wish it were online and searchable.
Givón, Talmy. 1979. Chapter 7, "Language and Phylogeny: The SOV Mystery and the Evolution of Discourse." In On Understanding Grammar, pp. 271-309. San Diego: Academic Press.
This article describes the properties of animal communication that are like human communication and hence suggest an evolutionary development of language. Many linguists consider this chapter speculative but I think it has many thought-provoking ideas in it, even if also some far-fetched ones. Now that the origin of language is back on the "allowed" list of topics in the field, it is worth thinking again about how dogs and other social-hierarchical animals communicate, and what similarities and differences we can observe with human language.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1959a. Language and Evolution. In Greenberg 1959b.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1959b . On the morpological typology of languages. In Denning and Kemmer, eds. On Language: Selected writings of Joseph H. Greenberg. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1966. Language universals, with special reference to feature hierarchies. (Janua Linguarum series minor 59.) The Hague: Mouton.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1971a. Language, Culture and Communication: Essays by Joseph H. Greenberg. Selected and introduced by Anwar S. Dil. Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1971b. Is language like a chess game? In Greenberg (1971)a.
Gross, Maurice. 1979. On the failure of generative grammar. Language 55(4), 859-885.
Maurice Gross (1934-2001) was a student of Zellig Harris and his work continued the theoretical views of Harris regarding the ways to approach the formal study of syntax. Like Harris, Gross also saw the importance of the empirical investigation of language via large amounts of text, and with the development of modern computer science he was able to take his investigations much farther than Harris had been able to do. Taking the empirical syntactic analysis of French as his main object of study, he developed computational linguistics in directions that were very much at odds with Chomsky-influenced computer scientists and Chomskyan theory in general; for example, he stressed the importance of idiosyncratic items such as idioms and multi-word expressions in the overall operation of a syntactic system, and the crucial importance of the lexicon in general. Modern computational linguistics, which now uses large linguistic corpora in the construction of its systems, has come round to his views and innovations that were pioneered decades before. Similarly, modern formal theories such as Lexical Functional Grammar were influenced (not always acknowledging the influence however) by Gross's lexical work in computuational linguistics. Modern cognitive linguistic theories, e.g. Langacker (1987), were also influenced by Gross and his insistence on taking account of the particularities of linguistic expressions and not simply trying to construct a syntactic system or theory on the basis of a few general rules.
Halliday, M.A.K. 1970. Language structure and language function. In John Lyons, ed. New Horizons in Linguistics. Penguin.
Harris, Roy. 1987. Reading Saussure. London: Duckworth.
Harris, Roy, and Talbot J. Taylor. 1989. Landmarks in linguistic thought. The Western tradition from Socrates to Saussure. London and New York: Routledge.
Harris, Zellig. 1951. Methods in structural linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Harris, Zellig. 1965. Transformational theory. Language 41, 363-401.
Hjelmslev, Louis. 1943 . Prolegomenon to a theory of language. Second English edition. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press.
Hjelmslev, Louis. 1963 . Language: An Introduction. English translation. Madison, Wisc.: University of Wisconsin Press.
Hockett, Charles. 1942. A system of descriptive phonology. Language 18, 3-21.
Hockett, Charles. 1954. Two models of grammatical description. Word10, 210-231.
Hockett, Charles. 1958. A Course in Modern Linguistics. New York: Macmillan.
The final chapter is a version (the first, as far as I know) of the material on the design features of language which later appeared in Scientific American and other places in revised form.
Hockett, Charles. 1959 . Logical Considerations in the OStudy of Animal Communication. In Hockett, Charles, 1977, The View from Language: Selected Essays 1948-1974, 124-162. Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press.
Hockett, Charles. 1960. The Origin of Speech. Scientific American 203: 88-111.
Hockett, Charles. 1968. The state of the art. Janua Linguarum series minor, 73. Den Haag: Mouton.
Hudson, Richard. 1976. Arguments for a non-transformational grammar. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.
von Humboldt, Wilhelm. 1836 . Über die Verschiedenheit des menschlichen Sprachbaues und ihren Einflusz auf die geistige Entwickelung des Menschengeschlechts. In Wilhelm von Humboldts Gesammelte Werke, vol. 6. Berlin: G. Reimer, 1848.
von Humboldt, Wilhelm.
Jackendoff, Ray. 1999. Possible stages in the evolution of the language capacity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 3: 272-9.
Jakobson, Roman. 1968. Child Language, Aphasia and Phonological Universals. Translation of Kindersprache, Aphasie, und allgemeine Lautgesetze (Allen R. Keiler, translator.) (Janua Linguarum minor.) The Hague: Mouton.
Jakobson, Roman, and Morris Halle. 1954. Fundamentals of Language.
Jespersen, Otto. 1922. Language: Its nature, development and origin.London: G. Allen and Unwin Ltd.
Otto Jespersen (1860-1943), who was a Dane, was probably the greatest grammarian of English who ever lived. (At least, I cannot think of any one else who deserves that title.) In addition, he wrote on syntactic theory (even developing his own framework for analyzing syntax), historical linguistics, and various areas of applied linguistics including language education and artificial languages. Jespersen is generally credited with revolutionizing language education in Scandinavia, moving the focus to spoken language and communicative function rather than principles of grammar-learning. The above book is my favorite Jespersen book, although his 7-volume Modern English Grammar on Historical Principles is the most impressive.
Jespersen, Otto. 1924. The Philosophy of Grammar. New York: Henry Holt.
Jespersen's theoretical work is less often studied today than his grammatical studies of English. This book is the theoretical work that survives best. (His syntactic theory, presented in Analytic Syntax, seems technical and idiosyncratic, to me at least, and I have not seen it cited much.) Philosophy of Grammar has some very interesting and readable discussions/analyses of linguistic categories from a universalizing perspective. It is still read.
Jones, William. The Third Anniversary Discourse, "On the Hindus". Delivered 2 February 1786. Printed in Sir William Jones, Works, vol. I, pp. 19-34. Available online at http://www.utexas.edu/cola/centers/lrc/books/read01.html>Lehmann's Reader in 19th C. Linguistics, Jones "On the Hindus".
Labov, William. 2001. Principles of language change: Social factors. London and Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Contains Labov's views on what he terms the "Neogrammarian Controversy", which is the issue of whether sound change is really absolutely regular.
Lehmann, Winfred P., ed. and transl., 1967. A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Historical Indo-European Linguistics. (Indiana University Studies in the History and Theory of Linguistics.) Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press. Out of print but now available online at Lehmann's Reader in 19th C. Linguistics.
Newmeyer, Frederick J. 1986. The Politics of Linguistics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Osthoff, Hermann, and Karl Brugmann, 1878. . Preface to Morphological Investigations in the Sphere of the Indo-European Languages, Vol. I. English translation in Lehmann (1967), pp. 197-209. Online version available on the Linguistics Research Center Site from the University of Texas at Austin. The entire Lehmann edition has been scanned. The Osthoff and Brugmann text is at Osthoff and Brugmann 1878. (If you use the latter, please cite online edition and date accessed. I am not sure if they are identical; sometimes editorial updates are silently incorporated or the scan adds errors.)
Pedersen, Holger. 1931. . The Discovery of Language: Linguistic Science in the 19th Century. Translated by John Webster Spargo. Midland Book edition. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Peirce, Charles Sanders. 1982-2000. Writings of Charles S. Peirce : A chronological edition. A multivolume collected works produced under direction of Max H. Fisch, General Editor. 6 vols.; volume editors vary.
Peirce is pronounced like purse. Charles S. Peirce lived 1839-1914. He is best known among linguists for his works on logic, philosophy of science, and semiotics, but he wrote prolifically on a huge array of topics. His work doesn't form part of the curriculum in most Linguistics departments in the U.S., but deserves attention.
Peirce, Charles Sanders. 1991. Peirce on signs: writings on semiotics. Edited by James Hoopes. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.
Pepperberg, Irene. 2000. The Alex Studies: Cognitive and Communicative Abilities of Gray Parrots. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
This work came up in the discussion of animal communication in 2006. Pepperberg gave the Bochner lecture at Rice that April.
Pinker, Stephen. 1994. The Language Instinct. New York: W. Morrow and Co.
Sampson, Geoffrey. 1980. Schools of Linguistics. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.
Sapir, Edward. 1921. Language, an Introduction to the Study of Speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co.
Sapir, Edward. 1929. A Study in Phonetic Symbolism. Journal of Experimental Psychology 12, 225-239. Reprinted in Sapir 1949b, 61-72.
Sapir, Edward, 1949a. The Psychological Reality of Phonemes. In Sapir 1949b, 46-60.
Sapir, Edward. 1949b . Selected Writings in Language, Culture, and Personality, ed. and with new foreword by David G. Mandelbaum, epilogue by Dell Hymes. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. First paperback edition 1985.
de Saussure, Ferdinand. 1916 [1959 translation]. A Course in General Linguistics, ed. by Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, in collaboration with Albert Reidlinger. Translated from the French by Wade Baskin, New York: McGraw-Hill.
de Saussure, Ferdinand. 1916 [1986 translation]. A Course in General Linguistics, ed. by Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye, in collaboration with Albert Reidlinger. Translated from the French by Roy Harris. Peru, Ill.: Open Court.
Sturtevant, Edgar. 1917 . Linguistic Change: An Introduction to the Historical Study of Language. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
Sturtevant, Edgar. 1916. . An Introduction to Linguistic Science. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.
Verner, Karl. 1875 . An Exception to the First Sound Shift. In Lehmann (1967), pp. 132-163.
Whorf, Benjamin Lee. 1956. Language, Thought and Reality. Selected Writings of Benjamin Lee Whorf. Ed. by John B. Carroll. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press.[ jump to top ]