Nelson Higher Education

Higher Education

Looking at Languages: A Workbook in Elementary Linguistics, 5th Edition

  • Paul R. Frommer
  • Edward Finegan
  • ISBN-10: 049591231X
  • ISBN-13: 9780495912316
  • 400 Pages | Paperback
  • Previous Editions: 2008, 2004, 1999
  • COPYRIGHT: 2012 Published
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About the Product

This workbooks is an excellent resource for students to get hands-on practice in linguistics - with sound files available on the website. It includes many exercises in many languages, including Na’vi (language created by Frommer for the movie Avatar); great variety of exercises, in progression of level of challenge; excellent data to analyze; division into English and non-English sections; organized so it can accompany any Intro to Linguistics textbook.


  • Ten chapters of exercises in key areas--morphology, phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, register, dialect, writing, and historical and comparative linguistics--provide students with numerous practice opportunities.

  • “Key Terms and Symbols” at the beginning of every chapter suggest the glossary terms students might want to review in preparation for completing the exercises.

  • Exercises within chapters are divided into those based on English and those based on other languages, thus providing maximum flexibility for students.

  • While this workbook is designed specifically to accompany Finegan, LANGUAGE: ITS STRUCTURE AND USE, it can also be used with other introduction to linguistics texts, or on its own as a practice manual.

  • Appendix C, “Language Index,” details where all the exercises in a particular language can be found. For example, of the exercises covering 30 natural languages, six draw on Chinese, seven on Spanish, one on Icelandic, and 66 on English. Two fictitious languages are also covered: Klingon and Spiiktumi.


“I love the variety of exercises in the book. The authors have done an extraordinary job gathering this data to analyze. students really appreciate the data and the data analyses they get to do. They’ve told me they felt like “real” linguists because they had so much data to analyze.”
— Lyabo F. Osiapem, College of William and Mary

About the Author

Paul R. Frommer

Paul R. Frommer (BA, mathematics, University of Rochester; MA and PhD, linguistics, USC) lived and taught in Malaysia and Iran. The former director of USC’s Center for Management Communication, where he taught Advanced Writing for Business and Cross-cultural Business Communication for Non-native Speakers, he created the Na’vi language for James Cameron’s film “Avatar” and is currently working with a worldwide community of enthusiasts to expand the language. He also developed Barsoomian, the Martian language for the Disney film “John Carter.”

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

Keys Terms and Symbols. Solved Problem--Morphemes: Hungarian Morpheme Identification. Exercises Based on English. Lexical Categories: Lexical Categories in English. Lexical Categories: Stress and Lexical Categories in English. Morphemes: Types of English Morphemes. Morphemes: Derivational Prefixes and Suffixes. Organization of Morphemes: Constituency and Word-Formation Rules in English. Increasing Vocabulary: Morphological Processes in English. Increasing Vocabulary: English Past-Tense Productivity Experiment. Exercises Based on other Languages. Morphemes: Spanish versus Hebrew Gender and Number. Morphemes: Malay/Indonesian Morpheme Identification. Morphemes: Persian Morpheme Identification 1. Morphemes: Persian Morpheme Identification 2. Inflectional Morphology: Latin Declensions. Inflectional Morphology: Lakota Verbs.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Exercises Based on English. Sounds and Spellings: English Consonants. Phonetic Transcription: Reading Practice 1. Phonetic Transcription: Reading Practice 2--English Homophone Phonetic Transcription: Reading Practice 3--Film and Play Names. Phonetic Transcription: Reading Practice 4. Phonetic Transcription: Writing Practice 1. Phonetic Transcription: Writing Practice 2. Consonants and Vowels: Identifying C/V, Describing C. Exercises in General Phonetics. Describing Sounds: Communicating about Pronunciation. Consonants and Vowels: Classification and Experimentation. Consonants and Vowels: Classification Practice 2. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Consonants and Vowels: Hawaiian C/V Inventory. Consonants and Vowels: Wichita C/V Inventory. Consonants and Vowels: Biblical Hebrew Consonant Inventory. Consonants and Vowels: Sound Symbolism in Lakota.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Solved Problem--Phonemes and Allophones: [ç] and [x] in Irish and German. Exercises Based on English. Phonemes and Allophones: Modern English [k] and [kh]. Phonological Rules: A Phonological Rule of Old English. Syllable Structure: Constraints on Consonant Clusters in English. Morphology/Phonology Interaction: Articles in English. Morphology/Phonology Interaction: A Negative Prefix in English. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Phonemes and Allophones: Spanish [ſ] and [ ]. Phonemes and Allophones: Spanish [s] and [z]. Phonemes and Allophones: Hindi and Japanese. Phonemes and Allophones: [t], [ ], and [] in Biblical Hebrew and Standard Arabic. Phonological Rules: Tokyo Japanese. Phonological Rules: Italian [s] and [z]. Phonological Rules: A Phonological Rule of Russian. Phonological Rules: Cuban Spanish and “R-Less” English. Phonological Rules: Mandarin Tone Change of pù and ī. Phonological Rules: Voiceless Vowels in Japanese. Phonological Rules: Tones in Akan. Syllable Structure: Japanese versus English. Syllable Structure: Mandarin Chinese. Stress: Icelandic, Swahili, Modern Greek, and Standard Arabic. Morphology/Phonology Interaction: Articles in French and Arabic. Morphology/Phonology Interaction: Malay/Indonesian Morphophonemics. Morphology/Phonology Interaction: A Derived Verb Stem in Arabic. Morphology/Phonology Interaction: Articles and Pronouns in Modern Greek (or “The Girl or the Sailor?”). Morphology/Phonology Interaction: The Definite Article in Welsh. Morphology/Phonology Interaction: Vowel Harmony in Turkish.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Exercises Based on English. Sentence Types. English Clauses. Constituency and Tree Diagrams: Constituency and Tree Diagrams: English Constituent Structure. Constituency and Tree Diagrams: English Sentence Trees. Constituency and Tree Diagrams: Structural Ambiguity in English. Grammatical Relations: English. Syntactic Operations: English Passives. Syntactic Operations: English Relative Clauses. Syntactic Operations: English Question Formation with Modals. Syntactic Operations: Constraints on Information Questions in English. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Constituency and Tree Diagrams: Spanish, Japanese, and English. Phrase Structure Rules: Articles, Demonstratives, and Possessives in English, Italian, and Greek. Syntactic Operations: French Interrogatives. Syntactic Operations: Chinese Noun Modifiers and Relative Clauses. Syntactic Operations: Case Marking and Relative Clauses in German. Word Order: Yiddish and Turkish. Word Order: Aspects of Klingon.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Exercises Based on English. Types of Meaning: Referential, Social, and Affective. Lexical Semantics: English Lexical Semantics. Lexical Semantics: True Synonymy and the Rarity Thereof. Lexical Semantics: English Metaphors 1. Lexical Semantics: English Metaphors 2. Function Words and Categories of Meaning: Deictic Expressions. Function Words and Categories of Meaning: Definiteness, Referentiality, and Specificity. Semantic Roles and Sentence Semantics: Semantic Roles in Headlines. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Lexical Semantics: Classifiers in Malay/Indonesian. Lexical Semantics: Adjective Classes in Persian.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Exercises Based on English. Categories of Information Structure: Old Information and New Information. Categories of Information Structure: Definiteness and Indefiniteness; Old and New Information. Pragmatic Categories and Syntax: Agentless Passives in English. Speech Acts: Categorizing Speech Acts in English. Speech Acts: Sentence Implication. The Cooperative Principle: The Gricean Maxims in American English. Violating the Cooperative Principle: Indirectness. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Pragmatic Categories and Syntax: Sentence-Final ba in Mandarin Chinese. Pragmatic Categories and Syntax: The shì Construction in Chinese.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Exercises Based on English. How Registers are Marked: How Registers are Marked: Pronunciation of -ing in New York City. How Registers are Marked: Lexical Domains and Informality. How Registers are Marked: Slang. How Registers are Marked: Recipe Register. How Registers are Marked: The Syntax and Lexicon of Personal Ads. Comparing Registers: Natural versus Literary Conversation. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Comparing Registers: Formal and Colloquial Registers in Persian.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Regional and Social Dialects: English Dialect Identification. Regional Dialects of American English: Isoglosses. Regional Dialects of American English: Dare 1. Regional Dialects of American English: Dare 2. Regional Dialects of American English: Vowel Shifts in North American English. Ethnic Varieties of American English: African American English. Ethnic Varieties of American English: A Resolution on Ebonics.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Exercises Based on English. Functions of Speaking and Writing: English Notices. Systems of Speaking and Writing: Eighteenth-Century Written versus Spoken English. Writing Systems: Indeterminacy and Ambiguity in English Spelling. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Writing Systems: Italian Spelling. Writing Systems: Modern Greek. Writing Systems: Modern Hebrew. Writing Systems: Persian. Writing Systems: Korean Hangul. Writing Systems: Japanese Hiragana. Writing Systems: Chinese Characters. Evolution of Writing Systems: Malay/Indonesian.
Keys Terms and Symbols. Exercises Based on English. Historical Development in English: A Text across Time. Historical Development in English: Lexical Change from Shakespeare to Modern English. Exercises Based on Other Languages. Language of Comparison: Classification of Lexical Similarities. Phonological Change: Greek. Phonological Change: Persian. Phonological Change: Comparative Romance 1. Phonological Change: Comparative Romance 2. Phonological Change: Borrowed Items.Reconstruction: Proto-Semitic Consonants. Reconstruction: The Spiiktumi Family.
A. The Pinyin Transcription System for Mandarin Chinese.
B. Transcription of Semitic Consonants.
C. Language Index.

New to this edition

  • For the student, new audio files, available on the Finegan website, now supplement the printed text in nine chapters. These files are linked to words, phrases, and sentences in various exercises and allow students to hear the data pronounced by native speakers, bringing the printed page to life and adding clarity and understanding.
  • New or revised exercises appear in Chapter 1, “Morphology,” Chapter 2, “Phonetics,” Chapter 3, “Phonology,” Chapter 4, “Syntax,” and Chapter 8, “Dialects.” The new exercises include solved and annotated problems in the Morphology and Phonology chapters, providing students not only with complete solutions but also with useful hints for attacking similar problems.


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

Instructor Supplements

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.