Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

Language: Its Structure and Use, 6th Edition

  • Edward Finegan
  • ISBN-10: 0495900419
  • ISBN-13: 9780495900412
  • 592 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2008, 2004, 1999
  • COPYRIGHT: 2012 Published
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About the Product

LANGUAGE: ITS STRUCTURE AND USE is one of the best-selling introductory linguistics textbooks because it treats language as both a system (structure) and a social tool (use) - an approach that serves students in many disciplines, especially linguistics, English, speech communications, and education. Features such as “What Do You Think” and “Try It Yourself” prompt students to consider language in daily life and to begin thinking about analysis of language. The variety of exercises is suitable for many purposes, including a section in every chapter “Especially for Educators and Future Teachers.” Based on sound scholarship and framed in a clear, friendly presentation, LANGUAGE: ITS STRUCTURE AND USE, Sixth Edition, helps students understand the uniquely human trait of language.


  • “For Practice” sets in key chapters assist students in comprehending important concepts and prompt them to tackle more rigorous questions.

  • Sections of exercises include “Practice Exercises,” “Based on English,” and “Especially for Educators and Future Teachers” and the end-of-chapter review sections.

  • “What Do You Think?” questions get students thinking about language in daily life; “What Do you Think? Revisited” show how the chapter answers these questions.

  • “Try It Yourself” sections encourage students to apply what has just been discussed and study how it works.

  • Coverage of print and Internet resources assists both the beginning and the advanced linguistics student.

  • “Especially for Educators and Future Teachers” sections highlight the material future educators need.


“Clear explanations, excellent charts, excellent exercises-- All sections are theoretically sophisticated yet approachable for beginning undergraduates.”
— Christopher D. Sapp, University of Mississippi

About the Author

Edward Finegan

Edward Finegan (MA and PhD, Ohio University) specializes in sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, forensic linguistics, and the history and structure of the English language. He served as chair of the Department of Linguistics at USC and currently serves as director of USC's Center for Excellence in Teaching. President of the International Association of Forensic Linguists, Finegan is editor of DICTIONARIES: THE JOURNAL OF THE DICTIONARY SOCIETY OF NORTH AMERICA and has been Liberal Arts Fellow in Law and Linguistics, Harvard University; Visiting Professor at University of Zurich; and Visiting Scholar at University of Helsinki. He also served as Director of American Language Institute/National Iranian Radio and Television [1975-1976 in peaceful times]. He is the recipient of many teaching awards and honors.

Table of Contents

1. Languages and Linguistics.
2. Words and Their Parts: Lexicon and Morphology.
3. The Sounds of Languages: Phonetics.
4. Sound Systems of Language: Phonology.
5. The Structure and Function of Phrases and Sentences: Syntax.
6. The Study of Meaning: Semantics.
7. Language Universals and Language Typology.
8. Information Structure and Pragmatics.
9. Speech Acts and Conversation.
10. Language Variation across Situations of Use: Registers and Styles.
11. Language Variation among Social Groups: Dialects.
12. Language Change over Time: Historical Linguistics.
13. Historical Development in English.
14. Acquiring First and Second Languages.
Answers to Exercises for Practice.
Index of Languages.
Index of Internet Sites.
Index of Videos.

New to this edition

  • Shorter text - Chapter 12, “Writing,” moved to the website. Per reviewers, teachers don’t have time to teach this chapter but it’s very valuable information so we moved it to the website.
  • Additional “Try It Yourself” opportunities encourage students to apply what has just been discussed and study how it works.
  • New boxes on special topics such as “McSleep Inn or Out? - Case McDonalds brought against a new chain of hotels wanting to use the name McSleep, and “Jeans and Disco” - interesting etymologies of these terms, and “Vocal Cord and Voicing” - how they work in humans


All supplements have been updated in coordination with the Main title.
Please see Main title page for new to this edition information.

Instructor Supplements

English CourseMate with eBook Instant Access Code  (ISBN-10: 1111862281 | ISBN-13: 9781111862282)

Interested in a simple way to complement your text and course content with study and practice materials? Cengage Learning’s Linguistics CourseMate brings course concepts to life with interactive learning, study, and exam preparation tools that support the printed textbook. Watch student comprehension soar as your class works with the printed textbook and the textbook-specific website. Linguistics CourseMate goes beyond the book to deliver what you need! Learn more at

Workbook Answer Key for Looking at Languages: A Workbook in Elementary Linguistics  (ISBN-10: 1111348065 | ISBN-13: 9781111348069)

This resource provides the answers to exercises in Frommer and Finegan’s LOOKING AT LANGUAGES student workbook.

Answer Key  (ISBN-10: 049591200X | ISBN-13: 9780495912002)

This resource provides the answers for the exercises in the textbook.

Student Supplements

English CourseMate with eBook Instant Access Code  (ISBN-10: 1111862281 | ISBN-13: 9781111862282)

The more you study, the better the results. Make the most of your study time by accessing everything you need to succeed in one place. Read your textbook, take notes, review flashcards, watch videos, and take practice quizzes--online with Linguistics CourseMate.