LinguisticsLinguistics is the study of language; it is a multifaceted subject covering sociolinguistics, language theory, language history, phonetics, semantics, and rhetoric. Oxford Reference provides more than 7,000 concise definitions and in-depth, specialist encyclopedic entries on all aspects of linguistics.

These include language families, major languages from all over the world (including major national/regional dialects), and key figures and ideas. Our coverage comprises authoritative, highly accessible information on the very latest terminology and theories and is written by trusted experts for researchers at every level.

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                               Encyclopedia of Semiotics    The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics   Encyclopedia of Rhetoric   International Encyclopedia of Linguistics

See all the Linguistics books available on Oxford Reference >

Sample resources

Discover Linguistics on Oxford Reference with the below sample content:

Quotations about language, grammar, and words from Oxford Essential Quotations

Values of phonetic symbols used in the Concise Oxford Companion to the English Language

Information on Penutian and Eskimo-Aleut languages, from International Encyclopedia of Linguistics

A biography of Avram Noam Chomsky from The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics

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Featured Author

Paul Bouissac

Paul Bouissac

Paul Bouissac is Professor Emeritus at the University of Toronto (Victoria College), where he taught in the Department of French. He also created and now runs an open semiotics resource center, semioticon. His published works include Circus and Culture: A Semiotic Approach (Indiana University Press, 1976), Saussure: A Guide for the Perplexed (Continnum, 2010), Semiotics at the Circus (De Gruyter, 2010), Circus as Multimodal Discourse (Bloomsbury, 2012), and The Semiotics of Clowns and Clowning (Bloomsbury, 2015). He has published articles both in French and in English concerning the ethnosemiotics of performance (particularly the circus), the semiotics of gestures, and the interpretation of Paleolithic art. He is also the editor of The Encyclopedia of Semiotics (OUP, 2007).

Author Q&A

In your opinion, which is the most fascinating entry in your encyclopedia and why?

To me, the most interesting entry in the encyclopedia is the entry on “Sign” by David Lidov because it shows that this notion, which is taken for granted in most of the current semiotic literature, is in fact quite problematic. I know that main-stream semiotics is generally taught in a dogmatic manner as applying the principles of fountain-heads such as Saussure, Peirce, Greimas, or Eco. For me, semiotics is an epistemological movement in progress, an open-frontier discipline.

What is the one term or concept that everyone—from students to everyday web users—should be familiar with? Why?

An essential term is “Meme”. It has been trivialized by popularization through the media and it is used un-reflexively as a buzz word. Little is understood about the capacity of some algorithms to take over the human brain and control its motivational and behavioural potential. It is an important part of the open frontier I mention above.

Which historical events or figures featured in your encyclopedia have most influenced your study of your subject?

Although I have never blindly followed any mentor, three of the figures covered in the encyclopedia had an influence on my thinking about semiotics: anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, and linguists A.J. Greimas and Roman Jakobson. I studied under the first two, and I interacted with the third one later in my career as a junior scholar.

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Featured blogs

How did Shakespeare originally sound?
November 2016
Test your knowledge of common Shakespearean words with our quiz.

Going sour: sweet words in slang
July 2015
Jonathon Green, contributor to The Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets, gives the rundown of the sweet terms and phrases that have been re-imagined and incorporated into slang.

For more linguistics blog posts delve in to the OUPblog archives >

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