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A Short Introduction to the Study of Language

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A Short Introduction to the Study of Language provides an accessible and up-to-date invitation to key concepts of modern language study. Readers gain awareness of the scientific approach to language through examination of varied topics of current research interest. The book explores the following issues: How are young children, who have limited general cognitive capability, able to automatically pick up and use any language that is in their environment, quickly, easily and without effort? Do other animals have language – what about the complex communication systems of apes, bees and cephalods? What happens when an individual is raised in an environment in which they are not exposed to language? Are some languages simpler than others - do some languages lack grammar? Is English getting worse over time, and is there one “correct” way to speak English?

This book introduces readers to work that linguists are engaged in today which explores these questions, and sheds light on a number of widespread myths and misconceptions about language.

Published: Jan 7, 2019

Section Chapter Authors
Preface Ellen Thompson
Chapter 1
What is Language? Ellen Thompson
Chapter 2
Language and Other Animal Communication Systems Ellen Thompson
Chapter 3
Teaching Human Language to Apes Ellen Thompson
Chapter 4
Language Learning Ellen Thompson
Chapter 5
Experiments in Language Acquisition Ellen Thompson
Chapter 6
Abnormal Language Ellen Thompson
Chapter 7
Bilingualism Ellen Thompson
Chapter 8
Are there Primitive Languages? Ellen Thompson
Chapter 9
Non-Standard Dialects Ellen Thompson
End Matter
References Ellen Thompson
Index Ellen Thompson


A compendious, useful guide to fundamental concepts in the scientific study of language. It’s a very welcome addition to the field and it would be an ideal textbook for any course that is an introduction to linguistics.
Professor Michael Aceto, East Carolina University

An intellectually stimulating and accessible introduction to the main concepts in modern language study. A wonderful textbook for an undergraduate Introduction to Language course.
Professor Karen Zagona, University of Washington

A clearly-written, easy-to-understand introduction to key concepts in linguistics. It would be a good choice for the inquisitive independent reader, for background reading for an introductory linguistics course, or as an assigned text for a course in which the instructor would like to introduce these concepts yet have space to bring in additional texts, tasks, and activities.
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