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Whys and Therefores A Rational Look at the English Language by William E. Rutherford

Whys and Therefores A Rational Look at the English Language


Whys and Therefores A Rational Look at the English Language by William E. Rutherford

Whys & Therefores aids the reader to arrive at generalizations for the shape of the English language: words, grammar, meaning, sound and spelling. The format adopted throughout is that of a light-hearted ongoing Socratic dialogue between a mentor and a pupil. The intended effects of such activity are: awareness of what it means to 'know' a language; reliance upon native-language intuition; discovery of what one didn't know that one already 'knows' about the language; use of ungrammaticality as an investigative tool; healthy questioning of received facts about language from so-called experts; and usefulness of language play. Whys & Therefores can be read as a book, listened to on the accompanying CD, dipped into at random, expanded upon, even acted out. The language phenomena treated therein are indexed and tabbed to the dialogues where they are discussed, making Whys & Therefores a valuable source of reference. Whys & Therefores is intended as an entertaining yet serious do-it-yourself book about aspects of English language form and meaning. However, it will also prove useful to schools as classroom material to be further exploited by the instructor in free-range dialogue form, and to institutions offering teacher training in rational-based instructional procedures for English language education in the schools.


'Whys and Therefores is a lively and adventurous book, a delight to read! It's hard to put down, and will capture the imaginations of even those readers who don't start out recognizing that they love languages.'
Professor Margaret Thomas, Program in Linguistics, Slavic

& Eastern Languages & Literatures, Boston College 'Through the form of Socratic dialogues in both print and sound, Rutherford's Whys & Therefores takes readers and listeners on a unique intellectual tour of the fascinating world of the English language. This book is for anyone in the era of EAGLF (English as a global lingua franca) with the need and desire to enjoyably build conscious knowledge of the language.
Professor Fusa Katada, Center for English Language Education in Science and Engineering, Waseda University, Tokyo

'With wit and humor, Rutherford presents fruits of modern linguistics--amazing principles at work in English that most native speakers are unaware of--whether they are about pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, or even spelling conventions. I recommend the book to anyone interested in linguistics but put off by formalism and technicality found in other introductory books. This book makes an introduction to the discipline a smooth, happy and extremely intriguing one. I am thinking of using it as a second textbook for a generative linguistics course that I teach to future language teachers.'
Hiroyuki Oshita, Associate Professor of Japanese and Linguistics, Ohio University

'Having had the privilege of seeing this book in its gestational stages, I know its goals and have seen how Dr. Rutherford's linguistic insight and sensitivity to newcomers combine to make this a fine first encounter. By itself for fun, or complementing a text in a classroom, Whys and Therefores successfully combines rational inquiry and humor--no mean feat. I look forward to using the text with my own students.'
Sharon M. Klein, Professor of Linguistics, California State University, Northridge

About the Author

William Rutherford is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Southern California. His main educational interests have represented an intersection of research in language acquisition, in grammatical theory, and in psycholinguistic theories of language learnability. For ten years Professor Rutherford was co-general editor of the monograph series Language Acquisition and Language Disorders and in 1995 he was the recipient of a festschrift, The Current State of Interlanguage: Studies in Honor of William E. Rutherford (Benjamins). From 1998 until his retirement he was engaged in the application of computer tools in the service of computerized data-bases of L2 learner language designed to serve L2 acquisition researchers. Among his books are Second Language Grammar: Learning and Teaching (Longman) and Workbook in the Structure of English: Linguistic Principles and Language Acquisition (Blackwell). Professor Rutherford's current interest is the potential for early education of rational inquiry as an investigative tool of the sciences and especially cognitive science (e.g. linguistics).

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Book Info

Publication date

24th November 2011


William E. Rutherford

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Equinox Publishing Ltd


280 pages


Language teaching & learning material & coursework



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