Review of the Literature

This can take various forms; below is an example of a very minimal review of the literature I wrote for a chapter in a longer book. Your review of the literature for your paper should be at least this long and comprehensive. The purpose of a Review of Literature, of course, is to show your reader that you have 'done your homework.' That is, you have learned something about the topic, and are not writing 'off the top of your head.' The literature we are referring to is what has been written by other researchers on the topic at hand, not your data or the material you are studying. By showing that you are building on the work of others, you show the reader you respect his/her intelligence, and can put your work in the context of other people's work. You are not acting alone, or acting as if you know something others don't know. It is a courtesy to the reader to establish your credibility, your bonae fides and thereby convince the reader you should be believed, and that you have something to say.

In this RoL, I mention the work that is standard on Alsace, and state what each writer has contributed to our knowledge. It also establishes that there are a number of subtopics that arise in this study, and that I am familiar with these topics (such as codeswitching, dialect boundaries, etc.) I try to convince the reader I have done the needful in covering all the necessary territory.

The best source of the linguistic history of Alsace, together with clear statements about the actual distribution of dialect forms, isoglosses (subdialectal boundaries) and other interesting facts of linguistic practice in Alsace is to be found in the two-volume work of Lévy (1929). A more succinct version of the linguistic history of the area can be found in Philipps (1975); Hartweg in a number of articles (1981, 1983, 1986) summarizes both the linguistic and the sociolinguistic situation admirably. Gardner-Chloros (1995, 1991) describes the interesting kinds of code-switching and other multilingualism that still occurs in Strasbourg, even in fancy shops and banks, not just by uneducated or rural people. Denis and Veltman (1989) gives a pessimistic view of the future of Alsatian dialect, while Vassberg (1993) presents an eclectic overview of the history, attitudes, policies, conversational and code-switching behavior, and results of a questionnaire-survey in upper Alsace (Haut-Rhin, centered around Mulhouse) and lower Alsace (Bas-Rhin, centered around Strasbourg). (Schiffman 1996:145)
The sources quoted above (Lévy (1929), Philipps (1975) Hartweg (1981, 1983, 1986)), etc. are then specified in full in the bibliography.

Here are some on-line descriptions of Reviews of Literature you can consult:

Sample Bibliography References

Booth, Wayne C., Gregory C. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. 1995. The Craft of Research Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Denis, M. N. and Veltman, Calvin. 1989. Le déclin du dialecte alsacien. Strasbourg: Association des publications près les Universités de Strasbourg.

Gardner-Chloros, Penelope. 1985. ``Language selection and switching among Strasbourg shoppers." International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 54:117-135.

Hartweg, Frédéric. 198?. ``Le dialecte Alsacien: domaines d'utilisation." In Zeitschrift für Dialektologie und Linguistik. Volume 32. P.H. Nelde (ed.), Sprachkontakt und Sprachkonflikt. Pp. 75-82. Wiesbaden: Fr. STeiner Verlag.

__________________________, 1981. ``Sprachkontakt und Sprachkonflikt im Elsaß." In Meid, W. and K. Keller (eds.), Sprachkontakt als Ursache der Sprach- und Bewusstseinsstruktur. Innsbruck.

Lévy, Paul. 1929. Histoire linguistique d'Alsace et de Lorraine. Paris: Société d'Édition Les Belles Lettres.

Picard, Olivier. 1993. ``Maternelles bilingues: la charte est signée." Dernières Nouvelles d'Alsace, No. 6, January 8, 1993.

Philipps, Eugène. 1975. Les luttes linguistiques en Alsace jusqu'en 1945. Strasbourg: Culture Alsacienne.

Philipps, Eugène. 1978. L'Alsace face à son destin: la crise d'identité. Strasbourg: Société d'Edition de la Basse-Alsace.

Philipps, Eugène. 1982. Le défi Alsacien. Strasbourg: Société d'Edition de la Basse-Alsace.

Vassberg, Liliane M. 1993. Alsatian Acts of Identity: Language Use and Language Attitudes in Alsace. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters Ltd.

Vermes, Genevieve et Josiane Boutet (eds.) 1987. France, pays multilingue. Vols. I and II. Paris: L'Harmattan.

Harold Schiffman
December 5, 2000