Linguistics references

Does anyone know of some good introductory books on linguistics?

I’m working on a project now to do some computer based textual analysis and text generation, and I’m trying to get background info for our project from a linguistics standpoint.

The only stuff I could think of offhand was some of Chomskys work, but even for that, what’s a good starting point?


I wouldn’t start with Chomsky. His linguistics stuff is not introductory level.

Try “The Language Instinct” or “Words and Rules” by Steven Pinker. The former has a better overview of linguistics, the latter seems a bit more relevant to what you’re doing.

Also maybe flip through the AI essays in Hofstadter’s “Metamagical Themas.”

If anyone else has some other titles to recommend, I’d love to hear your suggestions as well so I can read them.


Try this, not as an introductory linguistics text (though it’s not high level), but more targetted to what you’re trying to do.

Using Computers in Linguistics, A Practical Guide
Edited by John Lawler and Helen Aristar Dry

The most commonly used introductory textbook in linguistics is An Introduction to Language by Victoria Fromkin and Robert Rodman. I’m a little concerned though if you have never even taken an introductory course in linguistics and are trying to apply it in your work. Perhaps you should bring a linguist into this project.

I second Fromkin and Rodman - wonderful introductory book. Also look out for stuff by David Crystal - he did a bunch of fairly accessible texts for Pelican Books, ummm… back when I started my Linguistics degree…aaargh… twenty years ago.

I feel old now.