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The Languages of Native North America (Cambridge Language Surveys) 0th Edition

4.9 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0521298759
ISBN-10: 052129875X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

'This volume is a most welcome continuation of a most useful series. it is a great pleasure to review Marianne Mithun's The Languages of Native North America in the Cambridge Language Surveys, since one can only express admiration for the tremendous amount of labour behind this book. There are very few people in modern native North American linguistics, if any, who could do an equally beautiful job as Mithun.' Linguistic Typology

Book Description

This book is a comprehensive and authoritative survey of the North American Indian languages. These several hundred languages show tremendous genetic and typological diversity, and offer numerous challenges to current linguistic theory. The book includes an overview of their special characteristics, descriptions of special styles, and a catalogue of the languages detailing their locations, genetic affiliations, number of speakers, and major structural features, and listing published material on them.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Language Surveys
  • Paperback: 796 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 16, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052129875X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521298759
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,132,380 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As someone who creates languages for fun, I've read a lot of linguistics books, searching for ideas and inspiration. Recently, I became interested in polysynthesis, but could find no detailed information on it. Then I found this book. The first three hundred pages are full of unique linguistic features. Polysynthesis is covered in great detail, as is almost every rare grammatical structure. The sheer scope of this book is tremendous. Mithun claims to include every attested North American language, and I believe her. Also, the extensive references (almost 150 pages) make it easy to locate information on specific languages (like full grammars, phonologies, et cetera). Highly recommended to anyone interested in linguistics, and a must-read for any conlanger.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
People who are interested in unusual languages, like myself, probably have some familiarity with Marc Okrand's Klingon, created to be the speech of an alien race. This artificial language throws in some less than common sounds, and creates a somewhat unusual syntax, and attempts to sell the result as the speech of an alien race.
A few minutes with this book will suggest to the reader who takes an interest in these things that Klingon is a profound failure. Here we have a record of people here on Earth who have created alternative linguistic structures that are even more unfamiliar to English speakers. This book will open your mind to the astonishing variety of ways human verbal communication can be categorised and organised. We have languages with no clear distinction between nouns and verbs, and languages that can give tense and conditionality to adjectives. We have languages that use different pronouns for a 'we' that includes the person being addressed, and a 'we' that excludes that person.
For a reader with interests in these matters, this will be a fascinating, if somewhat dry, read. Your joy at being introduced to this fascinating variety will be tempered, though, by the ever-present elegiac note in these pages. Literally hundreds of these tongues are still spoken only by a handful of aging people; hundreds more have gone silent.
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By A Customer on February 11, 2002
Format: Paperback
Marianne Mithun is *the* expert on Native American languages. This book is an excellent resource for grad students, undergrads, professors, and anyone else interested in the languages of the Americas. Mithun describes in detail language phenomena and language families, and includes an extensive bibliography in case you can't find what you're looking for in this book.
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Format: Paperback
This book is chock full of linguistic information about the many diverse Amerindian languages and has an excellent bibliography. My only regret is that it includes almost nothing on Amerindian sociolinguistics. It would probably be difficult and dry reading for people not already interested in linguistics; most of the book is fairly technical.
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Languages unique to North America are understudied and underappreciated. This book is a major corrective and a valuable resource to anyone interested to the languages spoken by the people here. In spite of popular belief, not all languages have died out, and many cultures, such as the Lakota and the Navajo, are making great strides in passing the language down to the next generation. Anyone who is interested in languages will find it well-done and fascinating, and all linguists should have this reference on their bookshelf.
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