(1) Pick a book at least 100 pages long dealing with some aspect of sociolinguistics, sociology
of language, or language planning. The book must be a single monographic work, by one or
more authors; it may not be an anthology of articles, conference papers, or reports by various
authors. The book does not have to deal exclusively with sociolinguistics, but a sociolinguistic
approach to language must be a central theme. It is not appropriate to review dictionaries, lists
of proverbs or sayings, or other list-type presentations, nor works of literature. Most acceptable
books will be in the P … classification in the library (Pxxx for general linguistics, and PA, PB,
PC, PD, etc. for language-specific studies). You may not choose a language or grammar
textbook. Before submitting the title for approval, look the book over carefully, to make sure
you understand its content. If the book is over 300 pages long, bring it to me, and I will try to
suggest certain sections that can be skipped over when preparing the review.
(2) Book reviews are to be 600-750 words in length, and no longer than 3 pages, typed,
double-spaced. After heading the paper with your own name and the class name, begin with the
complete bibliographical citation, in this standard format:
Last name, First Name. Title. Place of Publication: Publisher, date of publication. Edition (if
not first edition). Pp. xx (introductory sections, with small Roman numerals) + XX (total
number of pages with normal Arabic numerals). For example: Schneider, Edgar. American
earlier Black English. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 1989. Pp. xiv + 362.
The book can be in any language, but your report must be written in English.
(3) This is a book review, not just a summary. This means that you must summarize the
contents of the book, and give a brief critical commentary on both the style/organization and the
content, within the bounds of knowledge obtained in this class. The review must answer the
following questions:
(a) What is the overall classification of the book (historical sociolinguistics,
language variation, sociology of language, etc.)?
(b) Who are the intended readers of the book? (specialists in a specific field,
people with more general training in linguistics, educators, social activists,
a linguistically untrained general reading public, etc.).
(c) Is the author's approach primarily descriptive, trying to prove a theoretical
point, trying to argue a political or social conclusion, suggesting teaching
techniques, etc.?
(d) If the author is arguing against another author's position, briefly mention this
fact, without going into all the details of the previous argumentation.
(e) What are the author's principal conclusions?
(f) How does the author support the conclusions? (by new data, by demolishing
alternative arguments, by presenting a model demonstration or case study,
by simply claiming to be an authority, by pointing out defects or otherwise
maligning the work of other writers, etc.).
(g) Is the book clearly written? Are assertions well-documented? Does the
author make unsupported statements which reveal bias, preconceived
notions, or ignorance?
(h) In overall terms, how effective is the book in providing information to the
intended audience? Can you highlight particularly effective or compelling
sections, or suggest areas for improvement?
(4) Write in objective, scientific style; this is a critical review, not a reaction paper. Do
not use the first person anywhere in the review, nor include personal opinions or
recommendations (e.g. “I think everyone should read this book,” “I learned a lot from
this book,” etc.). For good examples of this type of review, see the “Book notices”
section of the general linguistics journal Language or book reviews in other relevant
journals, such as Language and Society, International Journal of the Sociology of
Language, Language Variation and Change.
(5) Do not turn in the book with your review. However, keep the book handy while I am
grading the reviews, since I may ask to see the book in order to verify specific details.
Your grade will be based on the content and quality of your review, and on your following
all directions carefully.
Correct bibliographical citation? (1 point)
Appropriate length? (1 point)
Classification? (2 points)
Intended audience? (1 point)
Approach? (2 points)
Conclusions? (3 points)
Justifications? (3 points)
Effectiveness? (2 points)
Overall assessment? (3 points)
Professional style/terminology (2 points)
Total (max. 20 points)