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The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (Oxford Linguistics) 1st Edition

7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199287918
ISBN-10: 0199287910
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Editorial Reviews


All chapters are well written and indeed the pleasingly readable style of the whole book must be applauded. Linguist List --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

J. P. Mallory is Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Queen's University of Belfast. He holds a PhD in Indo-European Studies (1975) from the University of California. His books include In Search of the Indo-Europeans (1989) and, with Victor Mair, The Tarim Mummies: The Mystery of the First Westerners in Ancient China (2000). He is currently the editor of the Journal of Indo-European Studies and was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 1996.

D. Q. Adams is Professor of English at the University of Idaho. He holds a PhD in Linguistics (1972) from the University of Chicago (1972). His published work includes An Introduction to Tocharian Historical Morphology (1988), A Dictionary of Tocharian B (1999), and numerous articles on Indo-European and especially Tocharian topics.
J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams are the co-editors of the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997).


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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford Linguistics
  • Hardcover: 760 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199287910
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199287918
  • Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 1.8 x 6.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,170,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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76 of 78 people found the following review helpful By DE on November 19, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
In 26 chapters, each with a helpful "Further Reading" section, Mallory and Adams offer a thorough survey of the current status of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) studies. In their introduction they acknowledge the example of Buck's A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages, asserting that they "have indeed aimed to do for Proto-Indo-European something of what Buck did for the individual Indo-European languages," and they succeed. Therefore, readers looking for detailed analyses of - for instance - the current state of knowledge about the PIE verb, the most complex part of the language, will find themselves disappointed. But then such readers already know which journals to read to follow current debates at the cutting edge, and the ample bibliographies here will also serve them well. Glottalic theory, to pick another favorite sticking point, likewise receives brief treatment, but with a balanced observation typical of the book's treatment of differing theories as a whole: "Fortunately, one can interchange the reconstructed forms between the traditional system and the variety of newly proposed systems in a relatively mechanical fashion. The traditional system is understood by all, and until the weight of scholarly opinion dismisses it for a single new system ... it remains the one most often cited." Nineteen chapters, the heart of the text, focus on the larger PIE world, with word lists, helpful summary charts and detailed discussion of semantic fields for clothing, religion, physical actions, relationships, food and drink, speech and sound, anatomy, and so on. The over 250 pages of appendices and indices, including a lexicon of some 2000 Proto-Indo-European roots (with both English-PIE and PIE-English sections), alone make this volume worth owning.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
When I heard that Oxford University Press would be publishing THE OXFORD INTRODUCTION TO PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN AND THE INDO-EUROPEAN WORLD, I was excited. I envisioned an update of Oswald Szemerenyi's old Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics that, because of the specific research interests of authors J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, would not only reflect contemporary developments in IE linguistics, but would seamlessly show what we can reconstruct for the culture of PIE speakers. Well, the book is something like that, but it turns out not to be much of a useful introduction to the field.

The book is over 700 pages long, but the introduction to Proto-Indo-European itself is quite small, less than a 100 pages really. It's certainly no substitute for a real handbook like Szemerenyi's, Beekes', Fortson's, or (my favourite) Lehmann's. The branches of Indo-European, its phonology and the basics of its morphology, and the debate over the relationship between the disparate languages that are first attested are set out. The authors nicely use Schleier's tale in its progressive versions to show how reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European have been consistently refined. While the view of Proto-Indo-European is generally the same as in introductions from the 1990s, the authors do reconstruct four laryngeals instead of the usual three, and prefer the transcription *h-subscript-x for an unknown laryngeal instead of *H.

The bulk of the book's content concerns the reconstruction of PIE lexicon, with chapters divided along such themes as "Food and Drink", "Speech and Sound", and "Material Culture".
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35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Martin R. Crim on February 1, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's hard to understand what audience a book like this is aimed toward. Yes, it's from a university press, so one assumes an academic audience of some kind. But the level of writing is much too light, fun, and enjoyable to be aimed at only people earning credit toward degrees or trying to make tenure. I'm doing neither of those actions but enjoyed the hell out of this book. But I wonder whether the authors were being mischievous or dismissive when they write something like, "In addition to standard indexes, the book also contains two word lists: a Proto-Indo-European English list and a list of the Proto-Indo-European vocabulary arranged by its English meaning (which should at least facilitate those who delight in such tasks as translating Hamlet into Klingon)." Eh, anyway, it's a fun book if you embrace your love of learning and shut away the voices of anti-intellectualism.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jarrod Brown on September 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
Perhaps it is more a testament to my tastes than the book to say I sat down and over the course of a week or so read straight through it. I am not a PIE scholar, but as an amateur linguist and adept in the IE languages of German, English, and Sanskrit I was able to recognize, apply, and go beyond many of the etymological vignettes offered here. This is certainly not a book for the general reader, but linguists would find it very accessible as well as others, such as linguistic philosophers or anthropologists or archeologists, would find it offers the sort of entertaining introduction they might be looking for. Books such as these are not written for entertainment value, however, and as an academic resource is definitely provides a very thorough overview of the state of the discipline, major thoughts and theories, to date (2006).

While this book obviously deserves its place in the tomes of linguistics that most reviewers have acknowledged is well-deserved, it is important to note that this book professes that it attempted to not only survey the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language but also the world. As such, much of the semantic analysis is doing just that--trying to tease our what small inferences about things as diverse as "animal sounds" to "social organization" and "material culture." Using what insights the reconstructed language can offer, restrained speculations are offered about the lifestyles, dwellings, activities, social organization and other mysteries of this important pre-historical group.

As another reviewer noted, minimum space is directed at ensuring readers understand the speculated linguistic complexities, morphological changes or syntax of PIE.
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