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Are Some Languages Better than Others?$
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R. M. W. Dixon

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198766810

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766810.001.0001

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Setting the scene

Setting the scene

Chapter:
(p.1) Chapter 1 Setting the scene
Source:
Are Some Languages Better than Others?
Author(s):

R. M. W. Dixon

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198766810.003.0001

This chapter begins by summarising the major functions of language within the social fabric of human society. The putative structure of an actual primitive language (as could have been spoken 100,000 or more years ago) is outlined, and then the ways in which every present-day language is superior. The prevalent myth that a people without a long-established tradition of writing must have an inferior language is laid to rest. Linguistics—conceived of as a science—has four facets: description, explanation, prediction, and evaluation. We here focus on the last.

Keywords:   language functions, evaluation, primitive language, writing, linguistics

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