The Language-Makers (1980)

   •Roy Harris

Hardcover: 194 pages
ISBN: 0801413176

Languages do not come ready-made, any more than philosophies, religions, or forms of government. They are what we make them. As language-makers, people need more than heads for talking. They need the physical and mental equipment to take part in the many social activities which alone provide the context for a relevant conceptualisation of what a language is. For language-making involves much more than merely the construction of systems of signs. It is also the essential process by which individuals construct a cultural identity for themselves, and for the communities to which they see themselves as belonging.

– ‘Profound and disturbing’: Anthony Burgess in The Observer

– ‘Harris’s kind of thinking is much needed in linguistics, where epistemology and ideology are always near the surface’: Marie Louise Pratt in Language

– ‘displays erudition of rare breadth, aptly deployed’: Barbara Strang in London Review of Books


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© Roy Harris, Emeritus Professor of General Linguistics, Oxford, 2010-2015