As I’ve been working with the Matthew Ridgway Center for International Security Studies
, I’ve been amazed at the way so many fields are interlinked together and that are applicable to this area. One subject area I recently discovered was that of linguistics
and whether or not it can affect your view of the world. I picked up some books on linguistics, and then I found that the February issue of Scientific American had an article on the very subject I was exploring entitled “How Language Shapes Thought
!” Such serendipity has been occurring often as I go deeper into the field of security studies…
I haven’t really taken any English courses since grade school, so I decided a refresher course on linguistics was in order – especially after seeing the new Star Trek movie where Uhura mentions Xenolinguistics as her major. To that end, I checked out Language, The Big Picture
by Peter Sharpe because I wanted a book that was a general introduction to the field.
This was not that book.
It IS a good survey of the research in the field. Sharpe begins with the origins of language and how our anatomy is related, and then moves on to why language change over time and variations by culture. He discusses Noam Chomsky
, who was the biggest influence on linguistics in the Twentieth Century, and various theories of how language is structured. This is followed by a survey of semantics
– how meaning is formed, and a discussion of semiotics
, the symbols and signs of culture. His final wrap-up talks about the mental representation of language.
This book is probably very good for use in a classroom, but not by someone who has little or no background in linguistics. To be honest, I was looking for more detail on, as Jim Kirk said, “Morphology