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William Downes

language, cognition and culture



'Religion, Cognition and Relevant Mysteries’(2012), revised version of paper given at National Sun-Yat-sen University 22/9/11 and National University of Kaohsiung 26/9/11, Taiwan. (See NEW WORK page.)

‘Complexity, Relevance and the Emergence of Culture’ (2012) in M-Y Tseng (ed.) Investigating Language at the Interface. Kaohsiung, Taiwan: Center for the Humanities, National Sun Yat-sen University.


Reviews: ‘Thinking at the Limit’ posted by Patrick McNamara (Boston U.) on 13/06/2011.

on eLanguage by Abby Forster (U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Language and Society(1998, extensively revised 2 edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 503 pp. Cambridge Approaches to Linguistics Series.

“Language and Society is the clearest and most reliable introduction to the field of sociolinguistics available to-day” - William Labov

“Of the textbooks on the market, Downes’ is arguably the best, providing the most thorough overview of the subject” - Language


of the first edition: Language62.2: 474-475 by Ian Smith; British Book News 30/5/84 by Trevor Pateman; Times Higher Education Supplement 6/7.84 by Jenny Cheshire; The Incorporated Linguist 24.2: 126 (Spring 1985) by Marion Owen and of the second edition: Forum for Modern Language Studies 37.1 (2001).

On-line: 13/3/99 by Felicity Meakins; Linguist List11.486 7/3/2000 by Jim Walker.


Linguistics and Literature

1. ‘Discourse and Drama: King Lear’s ‘Question to his Daughters’’ (1989), in W. van Peer (ed.), The Taming of the Text: Explorations in Language, Literature and Culture, London: Routledge, 226-257.

2.‘Meditation on Syntax: W.C. Williams ‘Young Sycamore’’ (1996), in C. Smith (ed.), Essays in Memory of Michael Parkinson and Janine Dakyns, Norwich Papers IV, University of East Anglia, 245-257.

3. ‘Register in Literature’ (1993) in R. Asher (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics, Oxford: Pergamon, Vol. 7, 3509-3511.

4. ‘Reading the Language itself: some methodological problems in D.C. Freemans’s ‘According to my bond: King Lear and re-cognition.’ Language and Literature (1993) 2.2: 121-128.

also 8 and 10 below.

Pragmatics, Cognition, Culture

6. ‘Language and Interpretation: Paul Robeson before the House Committee on Un-American Activities’ (1991), in P. Corfield, (ed.) Language, History and Class, Oxford: Blackwell, 264-297.

7. ‘History and linguistics’ (1993), in R. Asher (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics, Oxford: Pergamon, Vol. 3, 1578-1581.

8. ‘Pragmatics of Music and Emotion’ (1995), Language Forum2.2, 1-27.

9.‘Relevance and the Peircean Concept of Truth’ (1997), in Proceedings of the University of Hertfordshire Relevance Theory Workshop, in M. Groefsema (ed.) Chelmsford: Peter Thomas and Associates, 24-41.

10. ‘The Language of Felt Experience’ (2000), Language and Literature9.2, 99-121. Illustrated by analysis of text from Julian of Norwich.

Pragmatics, grammar and meaning

11. ‘The Imperative and Pragmatics’ (1977), Journal of Linguistics 13, 77-97. Reprinted (1979) in Articles and Theses on English, Tokyo: Eichosha Publishing, 58-88.

12. The Puzzle of the Gerundive’ (2001), in J. DeVilliers and R. Stainton (eds.), Communication in Linguistics: Papers in Honour of Michael Gregory: Toronto: Éditions du Gref, 95-135.

13. ‘Functional Explanation’ and ‘Teleological Explanation’ (1993) in R. Asher (ed.) The Encyclopaedia of Language and Linguistics, Oxford: Pergamon, Vol.3 1314-1318 and Vol. 9 4545-4546, respectively.