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

4.3 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0199296682
ISBN-10: 0199296685
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Editorial Reviews

Review

All chapters are well written and indeed the pleasingly readable style of the whole book must be applauded. Linguist List

About the Author

J. P. Mallory is Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Queen's University of Belfast. He holds a Ph.D. 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 Ph.D. 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
  • Paperback: 760 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (November 9, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199296685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199296682
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1.6 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #890,262 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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The first thing I want to say about this book is if you don't want a detailed discussion of Language as opposed to history then this book is not for you. However, since this was one of the things I was looking to study it was perfect for me.

The book covers the following main ideas:

(1) Concise introductions to the discovery and composition of the Indo-European language family.
(2) The way the proto-language has been reconstructed.
(3) Its most basic grammar
(4) The interrelationships between the different language groups
(5) The temporal position of the Indo-European languages
(6) Some of the difficulties in reconstructing a proto-language.
(7) Semantic field of the Proto-Indo-European lexicon.
(8) An examination of mythology and possible homelands of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

For me the most interesting chapters were the last two, as they talked about the mythology and religion and how they can be reconstructed, and the possible homelands of the Proto-Indo Europeans. Its amazing what you can get from the words of a language!
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