Preliminary Reading List: Linguistics Part I

Try to do all the reading listed under General as this is aimed at giving you a general sense of what modern Linguistics is about and the sorts of things about languages that interest linguists. Browsing the listed blogs will also give you a better idea about these questions.

Additionally, for each of the first-year papers, I have listed introductory reading (start with) that you should try to do before you come up. These are followed by some useful sources that will allow you to get a more systematic introduction to the sub-areas these 4 papers (Li1-Li4) are concerned with. You are not expected to read all of the sources listed under Continue to, but it would be a good idea to pick one text dealing with each of the main sub-components of the papers (listed in each case).

If you have questions about the reading, please don’t hesitate to contact me: Professor Ian Roberts, Director of Studies (


Adger, D. 2019. Language Unlimited. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Braber, N Cummings, L & Morrish, L (2015).  Exploring Language and Linguistics.  Cambridge: CUP

Burridge, K & Stebbins, T N (2016).  For the Love of Language.  An introduction to Linguistics.  Cambridge: CUP

Deutscher, G. (2010). Through the Language Looking Glass. London: Penguin.

Pereltsvaig, A. (2012). Languages of the World. An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (with further discussion on the author’s blog:

Pinker, S. (1995). The Language Instinct. London: Penguin.

Radford, A et al. (2009).  Linguistics: An introduction.  Cambridge: CUP

Roberts, I. 2017. The Wonders of Language, or How to Make Noises and Influence People. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

And a blog you may find useful/interesting (if nothing else, it will give you a good idea about the sorts of issues “practising” linguists today like to debate):

Li1 – Sounds and Words 

(this course focuses on Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology)

Start with:

Crystal, D. (1997). The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language (Chapters 27-29, 40). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pinker, S. (1995). The Language Instinct. (Chapters 5 and 6). London: Penguin.

Continue to:

Ashby, M. & J. Maidment (2005). Introducing Phonetic Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Aronoff, M. & K. Fudeman (2011). What is Morphology? London: Blackwell.

Booij, G (2012).  The Grammar of Words: An introduction to Linguistic Morphology.  Oxford: OUP

Carstairs-McCarthy, A. (2002). An Introduction to English Morphology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Catford, J C (2001).  A Practical Introduction to Phonetics.  Oxford: OUP

Davenport, M. & S.J. Hannahs (2005). Introducing Phonetics and Phonology. London: Hodder Education.

Knight, R-A (2012).  Phonetics.  A coursebook.  Cambridge: CUP

McMahon, A. (2002). An Introduction to English Phonology. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Odden, D (2013).  Introducing Phonology.  Cambridge: CUP

Spencer, A (2004).  'Morphology - an overview of central concepts'.  In Louisa Sadler and Andrew Spencer (eds.) Projecting Morphology.  Stanford University: Center for the Study of Language and Information, 67-110.

Li2 – Structures and meanings

(This course is concerned with Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics)

Start with:

Aitchison, J. (2003). Words in the Mind: An Introduction to the Mental Lexicon. Oxford: Blackwell.

Baker, M. (2003). The Atoms of Language. London: Penguin.

Radford, A (2016).  Analysing English Sentences.  Cambridge: CUP

Thomas, J. (1996). Meaning in Interaction: An Introduction to Pragmatics. London: Longman.

Continue to:

Burton-Roberts, N. (1997). Analysing Sentences: An Introduction to English Syntax. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Cook, V. & M. Newson (1996/2006). Chomsky's Universal Grammar. An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Cruse, A (2010).  Meaning in Language: An introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics.  Oxford: OUP

Elbourne, P. (2011). Meaning: A Slim Guide to Semantics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Huang, Y (2014).  Pragmatics.  Oxford: OUP

Mey, J. L. (2001). Pragmatics: An Introduction. Oxford: Blackwell.

Saeed, J. (2003). Semantics. London: Blackwell.

Tallerman, M. (1998/2005). Understanding Syntax. London: Arnold.

Li3 – Language, Brain and Society

(This course is concerned with psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics)

Start with:

Pinker’s Language Instinct.

Aitchison, J. (2011 or an earlier edition). The Articulate Mammal. London: Taylor and Francis

Coulmas, F (2013).  Sociolinguistics.  The Study of Speakers' Choices.  Cambridge: CUP

Edwards, J (2013).  Sociolinguistics: A Very Short Introduction.  Oxford: OUP

Yang, C. (2006). The Infinite Gift: How children learn and unlearn the Languages of the World. New York: Scribner.

Continue to:

Clark, E V (2016).  First Language Acquisition.  Cambridge: CUP

Harley, T. (2008/1995). The Psychology of Language: From Data to Theory. Hove: Psychology Press.

Holmes, J. 2001. An Introduction to Sociolinguistics. London: Longman.

Meisel, J M (2011).  First and Second Language Acquisition.  Cambridge: CUP

Mesthrie, R., J. Swann, A. Deumert & W. Leap. (2000). Introducing Sociolinguistics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Smith, N. & Tsimpli, I. M. 1995. The Mind of a Savant: Language Learning and Modularity. Oxford: Blackwell.

Trudgill, P (2011).  Sociolinguistic Typology: Social Determinants of Linguistic Complexity.  Oxford: OUP

Warren, P (2012).  Introducing Psycholinguistics.  Cambridge: CUP

Li4 – History and Varieties of English

(This course is concerned with the History of English and also with English dialects, including pidgins and creoles)

Start with:

Brinton, L & Arnovick, L (2011).  The English Language.  A Linguistic History.  Oxford: OUP

Bybee, J (2015).  Language Change.  Cambridge : CUP

Crystal, D. (2002). The English Language. London: Penguin.

Crystal, D. (2004). The Stories of English. London: Allen Lane (Penguin Books).

Schneider, E W  (2010).  English Around the World.  An Introduction.  Cambridge: CUP 

Continue to:

Denison, D. & R. Hogg (2006). A History of the English language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Graddol, D., D. Leith & J. Swann (2002/1996). English: History, Diversity and Change. London: Routledge.

Hughes, A., P. Trudgill & D. Watt (2005). English Accents and Dialects. London: Hodder Arnold.

Kortmann, B. & C. Upton (2008). Varieties of English: The British Isles. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Kyto, M & Pahta, P (2016).  The Cambridge Handbook of English Historical Linguistics.  Cambridge: CUP

Marsden, R (2015).  The Cambridge Old English Reader.  Cambridge: CUP

Mugglestone, L (2012).  The Oxford History of English.  Oxford: OUP

Siemund, P (2013).  Varieties of English.  A Typological Approach.  Cambridge: CUP

Smith, J J (2009).  Old English: An Introduction.  Cambridge: CUP

Todd, L. (1990). Pidgins and Creoles. Routledge.