Customer Review

73 of 75 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By far the best introductory handbook for IE linguistics, April 7, 2005
This review is from: Theoretical Bases of Indo-European Linguistics (Paperback)
THEORETICAL BASES OF INDO-EUROPEAN is a handbook to the field by Winfred P. Lehmann, one of the greatest scholars in comparative linguistics in the 20th century. It is perhaps the only up-to-date handbook available, and is worth obtaining for any hoping to understand the means by which languages from Irish to Hindi can be traced to a common ancestor.

Lehmann's personal approach to introducing comparative Indo-European linguistics is not merely to talk about what is currently believed, but to trace each theoretical breakthrough over the past two centuries. As a result, students will be quickly become acquainted with the big names in the field and the laws they formulated. The standard handbooks of yesteryear, such as those of Szeremenyi and Brugmann, are summarised, and the basic methods for comparative reconstruction are laid out. Only then does Lehmann move on to displaying the view of the proto-language that we have reached to the present moment.

There are two chapters on phonology. The first is that of the proto-language just prior to its breaking up into dialects, i.e. Proto-Indo-European. The infrequency of the voiced unaspirated labial (b) and the "glottalic theory" proposed by Gamkrelidze and Ivanov are discussed in depth, and with a critical view. The second chapter on phonology concerns that of Pre-Indo-European, when internal reconstruction can show what the language looked like before the disappearance of the laryngeals and the fragmentation of its ablaut system. Morphology is split over two chapters, the first of which discusses nominal elements and the second verbal elements. As is Lehmann's style, the syntax of the proto-language and of Pre-Indo-European are covered at incredible length. Finally, there is a brief section on the search for the Indo-European homeland.

Though published in 1993, THEORETICAL BASES is the most useful introductory handbook available. It is recent enough to devote full attention to the findings of Soviet typologists which suggest Pre-Indo-European was an active language. Lehmann is refreshingly neutral, displaying all sides of recent disputes, and always letting the student know that his assertions have opposing views. The only real competition is Szemerenyi's INTRODUCTION TO INDO-EUROPEAN LINGUISTICS and Fortson's INDO-EUROPEAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE. The first, even in its third edition of 1990, is decades out of date and gives an idiosyncratic view of phonology (Szemerenyi was the last holdout against laryngeal theory). The second is overly simplistic and often makes certain things seem settled and done with when they are still very much in dispute.

Lehmann's THEORETICAL BASES is hands-down the best introduction to this fascinating field now available. While there's other handbooks worth taking a gander at, this one is definitely worth purchasing and keeping in one's personal library.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

Be the first person to comment on this review.

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 


Review Details

Item

4.3 out of 5 stars (3 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (1)
4 star:
 (2)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
$69.95 $59.82
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Location: Cluj-Napoca, Romania or Helsinki, Finland

Top Reviewer Ranking: 754