This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
The history of psychological approaches to the study of language has included periods of little communication between the disciplines of linguistics and psychology, and periods where each field drew upon the theories and methods of the other in limited--and often limiting--ways. This book represents a new approach that may define the next era in the relationship between psychology and linguistics. It does so by presenting the evolving linguistic theories collectively known as Cognitive-Functional Linguistics in terms that are intended to be accessible to cognitive scientists interested in how language works psychologically. In contrast to the Chomskian linguistic theories with which most psychologists today are familiar, the cognitive-functional approach of these linguists focuses on the things people communicate about (communicative functions) and the social conventions by means of which they do so (linguistic symbols and structures). The chapters in this book were all written by linguists who are leading proponents of this approach and edited by a psychologist committed to bringing this new way of looking at language into the mainstream of psychology. The volume promises to give psychologists a new appreciation of what this variety of linguistics can offer their study of language and communication, as well as to provide cognitive-functional linguists new models for presenting their work to audiences outside the boundaries of traditional linguistics.