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Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4483 days ago

915 posts - 927 votes 
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Speaks: Cornish, English*
Studies: Spanish, French, German
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin

 Message 1 of 21
13 October 2008 at 10:56am | IP Logged 
I am a linguaholic, I love learning languages, and I also love lingustics.
Where can I learn Linguistics (except university etc.), preferably free, but if needs be I will pay. Books, audiocourses, software, anything.

Thanks loads in advance

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Senior Member
dgryski.blogspot.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 5414 days ago

555 posts - 605 votes 
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Speaks: English*, French
Studies: Dutch, Esperanto

 Message 2 of 21
13 October 2008 at 11:09am | IP Logged 
You could probably do worse than starting at, and following all the links and sub-pages.

I picked up a copy of "Teach Yourself Linguistics". I'd say it was a pretty good introduction to a number of different areas of linguistics.
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Bob Greaves
United Kingdom
Joined 5082 days ago

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Speaks: English*
Studies: Spanish, Japanese

 Message 3 of 21
13 October 2008 at 12:40pm | IP Logged 
I would recommend The Language Instinct by Pinker. Great read and good insight into many areas of language.

Edited by Bob Greaves on 13 October 2008 at 4:44pm

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Senior Member
Joined 4796 days ago

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Speaks: English*
Studies: French, Spanish

 Message 4 of 21
13 October 2008 at 12:50pm | IP Logged 
I have the video series "Story of Human Language" by TTC, and it's VERY good.
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Super Polyglot
Joined 5106 days ago

9078 posts - 16471 votes 
Speaks: Danish*, French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, Romanian, Catalan
Studies: Afrikaans, Greek, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Icelandic, Latin, Irish, Lowland Scots, Indonesian, Polish, Croatian
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 Message 5 of 21
13 October 2008 at 2:16pm | IP Logged 
So you want to learn linguistics? Brave man - it's a large field divided into sharply divided camps that don't really recognize each other.

I would say that you should first learn something about historical linguistics as it was formulated by people like Grimm, Rask, Schleicher and others. In parallel to this you have to learn a lot about phonology in general (not just for the languages that you intend to speak), because the soundlaws formulated by the people I mentioned rely on phonology, not on semantics. Then you have to think about the limitations and alternatives to theories about MANY languages, rather than one at a time. Learn something concrete about creolization, and ponder the theories of Greenberg that basically supplement the methods of the historical linguists in cases where there aren't enough ancient texts. And of course learn which languages belongs to whioch families (and why).

To learn more about how to deal with many languages study Bloomfield (maybe you can find some issues of a magazine called "Language"). He and his followers developed an efficient system for the description of whole series of languages, including all the native American languages. For some reason this school was called 'structuralism', but in Europe this term had a totally different meaning. Bloomfield was a very practical man, while the Europeans were more philosophical.

To learn about European structuralism you should read a book called "Cours..." by Saussure (well, not really by Saussure, - it consists of notes to a course in linguistics that altered linguistics forever). Saussure wanted each language description to be formalized and independent from both historical considerations and comparisons with other languages (including Latin, whose grammar had been the model for the description of other languages for centuries). The historical descriptions vanished more or less from European grammars, but the formalization come slowly. I would say that true structuralistic grammars didn't really appear before the sixties and seventies (maybe inspired by, but different from transformationalism which was in the beginning a purely American phenomenon). In the meantime European grammarians produced a wealth of excellent grammars on a more eclectic basis.

And finally you cannot avoid transformationalism. I did witness the early years of this movement, but it never became anything but a fringe phenomenon while I was studying (in the 70es). However it certainly has changed linguistics, and you have to know what it is. The main problem with this theory (or group of theories) is not that it doesn't work, but rather that it it so abstruse that it has had few practical consequences for the way languages are taught, - in fact the general dumbing down of language text books since the 70es has moved linguistics further and further away from practical language teaching. But to understand scientific literature you must be able to understand argumentations formulated in transformational terms. And at least in the USA linguistics has almost become a branch of the study of English, not least because Chomsky himself didn't speak other languages than English.

I have not really kept abreast of developments in general linguistics after 1981 in the scientific literature, but as far as I know there aren't any major developments since then EXCEPT computer linguistics. We may laugh at the translation machines on the internet, but the programming principles behind these machines are a part of linguistics right now, and they will become ever more important in the coming years.

So if you really are serious about studying linguistics then you have your work cut out for you for many years ahead. Good luck.

Edited by Iversen on 13 October 2008 at 2:35pm

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Senior Member
Joined 4397 days ago

897 posts - 880 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
Studies: German

 Message 6 of 21
13 October 2008 at 2:32pm | IP Logged 
Although it may not be as impressive as Iverson's post, I did just find this. They're still working on it, but it might help you.

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Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 4483 days ago

915 posts - 927 votes 
1 sounds
Speaks: Cornish, English*
Studies: Spanish, French, German
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin

 Message 7 of 21
14 October 2008 at 2:40am | IP Logged 
Thanks everyone!

As I said, I am a lover of linguistics, but am too young to formally study it (In Britain we have to be 18 to go to university), but I cannot wait.

Thanks everyone again!
More suggestions welcome

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Senior Member
Joined 4554 days ago

1947 posts - 2923 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: French, Russian, Hungarian

 Message 8 of 21
14 October 2008 at 7:38am | IP Logged 
In the meantime, why not pick up a copy of David Crystal's The Encyclopedia of Language ? It gives a very good overview of linguistics, language learning and many other areas concerning languages. The copy I have is the second edition, which is a bit out of date concerning computer linguistics, but not computational linguistics. It's the ultimate coffee table book.

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