The Study of Language by George Yule. Eighth Edition, Cambridge University Press.

The Study of Language, 8th Edition [Review]

New year, new books. Well, we have to live by some adage don’t we? And perhaps it’s the time of year, but shiny new tomes in the postbox do have their appeal. Appropriately, this week’s doormat delight was George Yule‘s essential Linguistics primer The Study of Language, refreshed and updated in its 8th iteration.

It’s a text with some measure of nostalgia for me, appearing on a preliminary reader list ahead of my own MSc. And it has doubtless done so for many other courses, having become something of a modern classic; it offers a solid and systematic overview of all branches of the field, from historical linguistics to second language acquisition. If your university offers a course on it, there’s probably an introductory chapter on it in The Study of Language. It’s as comprehensive as it is reliable.

An Interactive Text

It’s been a good two years since the last edition, so what’s changed? One key enhancement is a considerable expansion of the end-of-unit study questions and tasks. It’s something that always made the volume perfect for working in tandem with programme instructors, now even more so. Activities range from simple questions to more exploratory project-based tasks, providing ample independent learning opportunities.

An example from one of the sections of study questions in The Study of Language by George Yule (8th Edition, Cambridge University Press).

Extensive study questions cap each of the concise, snappy chapters.

There is additional online support on the Cambridge website, too, which has seen a refresh along with the core text. This includes a substantial, 152-page PDF study guide for students, adding a good deal of value to the course.

Keeping It Current

The commitment of Cambridge University Press to keeping this key text up-to-date is impressive. Several of the chapters have gone through major rewrites to reflect current research. This is immediately evident in the further reading lists, replete with pointers to fresh, new sources.

The chapter on Second Language Acquisition is a case in point. Clearly it’s quite a dear topic to my own heart, and (predictably) one of my first stop-offs. But even I spotted some interesting new references to follow up in the mix, in the form of recent papers and monographs. It’s great to see the last couple of years represented in the lists of publications like this, underscoring the fact that this is a bang up-to-date edition.

The Study of Language is a broad, engaging and highly readable introduction to language sciences. It equips the reader with a robust roadmap to ensure they aren’t overwhelmed by unfamiliar buzzwords and jargon on starting out on a formal Linguistics course. This eighth edition is a very welcome continuation of that, ensuring that students get the very best and most up-to-date start possible.

Filipino : An Essential Grammar, published by Routledge in October 2022.

Filipino : An Essential Grammar [Review]

Only the other day was I heralding the appearance of two brand new Routledge Essential Grammars – and just in time for Christmas, too. So what should land on my doormat this week but the very latest addition, Filipino : An Essential Grammar? There’s no such thing as coincidences, I hear you cry!

Any new language is a welcome addition to Routledge’s solid family of language learning texts, and with this one, it’s a double whammy; it pips the publisher’s own Colloquial series, which still lacks a Filipino / Tagalog title. For a language with upwards of 80+ million speakers worldwide, the book plugs a textbook gap with the solid, practical approach we’ve come to love from the Essential collection.

Filipino : A Concise But Comprehensive Essential

At just shy of 200 pages, the title, penned by Sheila Zamar, is one of the lighter volumes in the series (check out the brilliant Icelandic edition for a true doorstop of a book, for comparison). That said, it’s by no means light on content, divided into well-defined parts-of-speech chapters. Each of these is concise and snappy, but still chock-full of examples of language in use.

Filipino : An Essential Grammar, published by Routledge in October 2022.

As a self-confessed verb obsessive, it’s extremely satisfying to see four very chunky sections (nearly half the book) taken up with a systematic presentation of the verbal system. It’s what you’d expect, given the quite different (and fascinating) classes of Austronesian conjugation, but the exposition and explanation is handled with neat, logical progression. Handily, glosses are provided alongside many of the examples, so you can see exactly what is going on in a given sentence.

(Type)set for Success

If you’re a fan of the series you’ll have already noticed, but I should add a word or two about the excellent formatting of the whole reissued grammar series. From the clean, sans-serif fonts to the clutter-free setting of the tables, the new editions are all exceptionally clear and easy to read. The block-colour covers in blues, aquamarines, crimsons and bricks look both artsy and academically serious at the same time, although that leaves me with one mystery: what do the cover colours signify, if anything? My first thought was language groups or families, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Perhaps authors have the option to choose their own favourite as a wee thank you for their work. Answers on a postcard in the comments.

Filipino : An Essential Grammar is certainly worthy of its essential title in a not-so-crowded textbook field for the language. Heartily recommended for serious learners and casually interested polyglots alike!