Volume 46, Issue 3
  • ISSN 0302-5160
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9781
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The book edited by Martin Joos is one of the best known collections of papers ever published in the field of linguistics. In this article I trace its publication history, from Bernard Bloch’s idea in 1946 for an anthology of important work in descriptive linguists, to the several editions of Joos’s reader between 1957 and 1995, to the present day, where citations to the book are still quite frequent. Making extensive use of unpublished material in various archives in the United States, I outline in detail the exchanges between Joos and other linguists around its publication, as well as the critical reviews that were published of the book. I attempt to explain why a collection of papers, the majority of which were published in the 1940s, is still of great interest. I offer two reasons. The first derives from the material in Joos’s prefaces to the various editions and from Joos’s editorial comments on the included articles. Practitioners of every current approach to linguistics have cited some of this material either as an opening wedge against opposing approaches or to express smug satisfaction that we know more about how science works now than we did more than a half-century ago. The second is that it provides a fascinating historical record of how linguistics used to be done — not so long ago that the approach documented is a mere historiographical curiosity, but also not so recently as to be no more than a quaint version of current theory


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