Contemporary Linguistics

Francis Katamba / William O'Grady / John Archibald  
Pearson Longman
Total pages
June 2011
Related Titles


Contemporary Linguistics: An Introduction is a comprehensive, fully up-to-date introduction to linguistics. All the core topics of linguistics are covered, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, the genetic and typological classification of the languages of the world, and historical linguistics. Interdisciplinary areas discussed include language and the brain, psycholinguistics - the study of language processing, first and second language acquisition, language in social contexts and the fast-growing area of computational linguistics.


  • A modular arrangement of the material facilitates the use of the book in courses at varying levels, and with differing emphasis.
  • Comprehensive and up-to-date introductory text.
  • Includes flagged material for more advanced study, end-of-chapter exercises and a detailed glossary.



New to this Edition

This new edition has been fully revised and updated, and includes

  • Greater coverage of syntax
  • A strong generativist approach, brought up-to-date
  • A completely new chapter on the developments in functional-cognitive grammar by John Taylor
  • A new chapter covering pragmatics and discourse analysis by Jenny Thomas
  • A significantly updated chapter on sociolinguistics
  • A new chapter on language endangerment by Francis Katamba
  • Table of Contents

    • Chapter 1: Language: A Preview
    • Chapter 2: Phonetics: The Sounds of Language
    • Chapter 3: Phonology: The Function and Patterning of Sounds
    • Chapter 4: Morphology: The Analysis of Word Structure
    • Chapter 5: Syntax: The Analysis of Sentence Structure
    • Chapter 6: Semantics: The Analysis of Meaning
    • Chapter 7: Cognitive Grammar
    • Chapter 8: Historical Linguistics: The Study of Language Change
    • Chapter 9: The Classification of Languages
    • Chapter 10: First Language Acquisition
    • Chapter 11: Second Language Acquisition
    • Chapter 12: Psycholinguistics: The Study of Language Processing
    • Chapter 13: Brain and Language
    • Chapter 14: Language in Social Contexts
    • Chapter 15: Writing and Language
    • Chapter 16: Animal Communication
    • Chapter 17: Computational Linguistics

    Back Cover

    Contemporary Linguistics has long provided a comprehensive introduction to the discipline, balancing engaging aspects of language study with sound coverage of the core areas of linguistics. Now in its second UK edition, it has been fully revised and updated to reflect the latest trends in scholarship, and includes an entirely new chapter expounding cognitive grammar. 

    An initiation into the intricacies of scientific linguistic analysis, Contemporary Linguistics covers not only how language is structured, but also how it functions both socially and culturally, and how it is acquired and processed by speakers.

    Interdisciplinary areas such as psycholinguistics, language acquisition and the growing field of computational linguistics are explored as well as the fundamentals of phonetics and phonology, syntax and semantics. Up-to-date scholarship, a direct approach and a lucid writing style makes it appealing to instructors and students alike, and a resource that many students continue to use beyond the classroom.

    Features include:

    • Language Matters boxes providing more general interest reading
    • Extra student resources available in a Companion Website ( with additional coverage of topics treated in the text and organised to correspond to the chapters of the book

    Originally co-edited by William O’Grady and John Archibald, with contributions from other leading scholars, and published in Canada, this major textbook has been fully adapted and updated by Francis Katamba for use in Britain and the rest of the world outside North America.


    Reader Review(s)

    "Contemporary Linguisticsis a reader- and instructor-friendly book. It is well paced and clearly written, and each chapter ends with a concise summary of the material, up-to-date recommendations for further reading and an extensive set of exercises. The individual chapters are nicely linked, allowing the reader to integrate information that is presented in different contexts and parts of the book.

    An excellent primary textbook for beginning linguistics undergraduates; it will also be a useful reference work for more advanced students... Accessible and informative, with tried and tested sequencing of material."

    - Reviewed in Times Higher Education