on May 27, 2011
I was left somewhat confused by what I saw in the two star review for this volume. Granted, we both agree that its an excellent book, but I was surprise by his title stating that the book, "Starts off at a simple level, but too abruptly increases in its demands."
Not really. Perhaps the kind of information becomes more complex, but I'd say that has more to do with the fact that morphological change and syntactic change in historical linguistics are far more complex topics than the first few chapters. And then when you move into meaning and semantics you jump again. But that's an issue with the field, not with this book. Throughout the volume, Hock and Joseph's writing is clear, helpful and extremely accessible. The book is a surprisingly easy read and an absolute pleasure. I read roughly 100 pages of it over the course of two days just because it was so engrossing. If you have a couple of years of linguistics (or even a couple years of classics studies) under your belt, you won't have a problem with this volume.
It's an incredibly handy book that covers an immense amount of material in a very accessible manner. The reason, I'd say its not really a textbook is that it lacks any sort of exercises where a student to practice or develop skills for doing historical linguistics. The book functions better in providing information about the state of historical linguistics and the kinds of research that is done in the field.
Like the other review, I would probably give the book four stars. However, I have given it five here in order to balance it out with the unfortunate two start review, which this volume definitely does not deserve.