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The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots, Third Edition Paperback – September 13, 2011

ISBN-13: 978-0547549446 ISBN-10: 054754944X Edition: 3 Original
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Calvert Watkins is the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Linguistics and the Classics, Emeritus, at Harvard University, and Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Classics and the Program in Indo-European Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. He specializes in Indo-European comparative linguistics, especially Latin, Greek, Celtic, Hittite, and comparative morphology and poetics. He wrote the “Appendix of Indo-European Roots” for the first edition of The American Heritage Dictionary and has revised it for the third, fourth, and fifth editions.
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Product Details

  • Series: American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 3 Original edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 054754944X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0547549446
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

31 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Theodore Keer on March 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
This beautiful and scholarly tome has more facts per inch than almost any other work in my library. It's easily worth triple its cover price. The new third edition features a well-expanded and somewhat better b/w illustrated "Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans" section. This essay, preceding the dictionary proper, stands alone as a great introduction to the early Indo-European peoples (such as the Greeks, Hittites, Celts, etc.,) and the concepts embodied in their languages. Except for one flaw mentioned below, this work is as close to perfection as one could ask in a work of linguistic reference.

First, in praise:

To the scholar or layman studying the Indo-European roots of the English lexicon, there is no more economical reference than this book. Shipley's Discursive Dictionary is highly diverting. J. P. Mallory's five-star works are encyclopedic in scope and weight. But this book should be your first stop in researching Indo-European etymologies, and in most cases will be your last.

The dictionary is arranged alphabetically by PIE root. The derivation of words native to or borrowed into English are given from their putative PIE origin. For example, if we look up "deal" in the index, it gives two roots: *dail- (from which we get the meaning "portion out") and *tel- meaning plank or flat stone.

"*tel- Ground, floor, board. 1) DEAL from Middle Low German and Middle Dutch dele, "plank," from Germanic *thil-jo. 2)Suffixed form *tel-n-, TELLURIAN ...[also tile, title].... From Latin tellus "earth, the earth.....[Pokorny 2. *tel- 1061.]"

Hence, Watkins gives us the modern English exemplars of the root whether they come through Germanic directly or indirectly or through another PIE sister language such as Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, etc.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By G. Johnson on November 21, 2012
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I love this book. The introduction goes through some basic concepts re into-european languages as well as "ur" into-european. It was not hard to read for a laymen. (I am interested and speak several languages, tho I have no linguistics training).

The entries are in alphabetical order of the guessed original IE language vocab, w/ an alphabetical index of related English words in the back that tells you the entry of the original IE word the English comes from.

Each entry has examples of several English words that the old IE word gave birth to. There are occasional examples of words from other languages besides English that the word gave birth to. My only complaint is that the non-English words could be more frequent. (Example- The same IE word gave us grave and grieve, and gave sanskrit "guru" the teacher, all words coming from an IE word supposed to mean "heavy".) While I recognize including various words from all current IE languages in each entry would be unrealistic and unwieldy, there could have been a little more.

Often but not always they will trace how a word changed meaning historically in English, from IE to older English words to our modern senses. This is brief, and not so frequent of a feature. Interspersed thruout the dictionary are brief "essays" or just entries about guessed IE culture, inferred from the word history studies. Really fascinating

OVERALL

This is a lot of fun, and you don't need specialized linguistics knowledge to enjoy it. I speak other languages, but even if you only speak English and are interested in words and word histories you are bound to love this book. Don't hesitate, just get it. I have the OED shorter, the Chambers Etymological dictionary, and the Origins etymological dictionary, and this really complements them all and adds depth to your understanding of word histories and changes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Upashasaka Isisukha on May 1, 2014
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This book is useful for vocabulary building. It has an alphabetical modern word index and it is easy to find roots of different modern words.
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This compendium of roots contains many not listed in "The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language" proper, with Germanic-, Greek-, and Italic-only roots included in addition. The only thing that would make it perfect would be to include even more roots—Wiktionary lists roots on its site that aren't found in this book, though such roots are sometimes sourceless and spurious—but give it time. Maybe the fourth edition will build on what is already a solid framework.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Nicolaus on March 25, 2013
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Excellent reference book, it really is all you expect of The American Heritage. The book has the most up-to-date information on Indo-European roots and also brief comments about particularly interesting entries that all Indo-Europeanists will enjoy!
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Another must have book for any scholar or just general reader with an interest in word history. A window into Indo-European culture in the form of a dictionary. Better than Esperanto!
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Format: Paperback
Despite its very short form, this is a well writen dictionary which is simultaneously a scholarly and handy. Even the simple introduction is quite precise. It is very hard to please both the academic elite and the general reader, yet Watkins has done it like a great artist. A simple example: the author has tried to simplify the symbols for the general reader (such as using schwa instead of the conventional indexed h denoting PIE laryngeals) but still there is no deviation from standards, and no vulgarization whatsoever. In short, it is an easy reference book.
The only shortcoming is its misleading title, (which should be rather read as "IE Roots Reflected in English"), yet surely it has chosen by the publisher after creating this booklet out of an appendix written by Professor Watkins for the unabridged English dictionary. One positive aspect of the book is its constant reference to Julius Pokorny's "Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch" on each PIE entry which allow a deeper and more expanded study of IE cognates.
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