Review – Language Myths

Posted June 7, 2020 by Nicky in Reviews / 0 Comments

Cover of Language Myths by Laurie Bauer and Peter TrudgillLanguage Myths, ed. Laurie Bauer, Peter Trudgill

Language Myths is a short and sweet collection of essays from various linguists, ruminating on various language myths from the incredibly specific (“Maori is an inferior language because you cannot use it to discuss astrophysics”) to the words on everyone’s lips (“kids are ruining the English language with their sloppy usage”). Most of it will be unsurprising to anyone with a spec of linguistic knowledge, and the level of interest and depth varies depending on the linguist writing the given essay and how good they are at putting their point across.

I don’t agree with some other reviewers that all the myths are strawmen, because I’ve heard exactly these arguments coming from people who hate language change, think that young people are undermining the pure clarity of the English language as it was spoken When I Was A Lad, etc, etc. Some of the myths feel a little more awkward, though, and I suspect that it because it is the particular linguist’s bugbear, and they just really wanted to write about that specific thing.

It’s not mindblowing, and the quality varies a little, but it’s still a decent primer on some of the things that linguists have to say about common perceptions of how language works.

Rating: 3/5

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