Today’s Zippy has our Pinhead in thrall to books:


My houses have always been like libraries; my Staunton Ct. condo in Palo Alto is in fact labeled Kirjasto Zwicky (‘Zwicky Library’ in Finnish, with kirjasto, lit. ‘book-place’). But for almost two years now, I’ve been abandoning the many thousands of books and dozens of file cabinets of papers there, to transform the place into something like an ordinary house. Still, both that place and the Ramona St. house I live in are distinctly bookish (though no longer with bookstacks).

Alas, as I discard truckloads of stuff, again and again I end up needing things that have been discarded. Every so often I’m obliged, sigh, to buy books again. Most recently, Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics (now in its 12th edition, of 2016, from the Ohio State University Press) — a volume I have a personal connection to:


From the Preface, p. xi:

Since its inception almost forty years ago, Language Files has grown from a collection of materials designed simply as a supplement for undergraduate courses into a full-fledged introductory textbook. The scope of the text makes it suitable for use in a wide range of courses, while its unique organization into instructor-friendly files allows for tremendous flexibility in course design.

Language Files was originaly the idea of Arnold Zwicky, who was among its first authors. Since the first edition, many editors have contributed to the development of Language Files; the current edition is the resut of this cumulative effort.

At first, the materials were assembled into booklets of duplicated handouts, for distribution to the students. Then they were published (in several editions) by the Advocate Publishing Group in Columbus OH. Eventually, publication went to the Ohio State University Press, where it became a reliable best-seller.

The book was always under constant revision by groups of instructors in Linguistics 201, Introduction to Language, at OSU — some faculty members, but mostly graduate students serving as teaching assistants. Once the book was under contract to a publisher, the practice was established that all the royalties go into a fund to support the education of the teaching assistants.

From its modest beginnings, the book has evolved into a set of materials that can be used for a variety of introductory courses — and so has greatly increased in size. The 12th editiion runs to 768 pages (big enough to serve as a doorstop) and costs about $70 (not unusual for college textbooks these days, but still a bit startling to me).

The publisher’s (rather fluffy) copy for the 12th edition:

Language Files: Materials for an Introduction to Language and Linguistics has become one of the most widely adopted, consulted, and authoritative introductory textbooks to linguistics ever written. The scope of the text makes it suitable for use in a wide range of courses, while its unique organization into student-friendly, self-contained sections allows for tremendous flexibility in course design.

The twelfth edition has been significantly revised, clarified, and updated throughout — with particular attention to the chapters on phonetics, phonology, pragmatics, and especially psycholinguistics. The restructured chapter on psycholinguistics makes use of recent research on language in the brain and includes expanded coverage of language processing disorders, introducing students to current models of speech perception and production and cutting-edge research techniques. In addition, exercises have been updated, and icons have been added to the text margins throughout the book, pointing instructors and students to useful and engaging audio files, videos, and other online resources on the accompanying Language Files website, which has also been significantly expanded.

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