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The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots Second Edition Edition
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First, in praise:
To the scholar (or layman) studying the Indo-European roots of the English lexicon, there is no other work (in the English language) of comparable value to this book.
(View the index pages available above to see the English words referenced in the work.)
Each word is derived from its putative IE root, and each root is exemplified by its various reflexes in English, whether native or borrowed. For example, if we look up "deal" in the index, it gives two roots, *dail- (from which we get the meaning "portion out") and *tel- meaning plank or flat stone:
"*tel- Ground, floor, board. 1) DEAL from Middle Low German and Middle Dutch dele, "plank," from Germanic *thil-jo. 2)Suffixed form *tel-n-, TELLURIAN ...[also tile, title].... From Latin tellus "earth, the earth.....[Pokorny 2. *tel- 1061.]"
Hence, Watkins gives us the modern English exemplars of the root, whether they come through Germanic directly or indirectly, or through another PIE sister language such as Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, etc.,. For each root Watkins refers to the proto-form as it is given and numbered (i.e., here 1061) in Pokorny's authoritative "Indogermanisches Etymologisches Woerterbuch" or notes its absence therein.Read more ›
My guess is that the marketing department at Houghton Mifflin believes that these features have limited appeal, but imagine the book being recommended in foreign-language classes.... True, most commonalities with Romance languages come from post-IE borrowings, and English is a Germanic language, but as far as I know, there is not even a good reference source for these. If the Italian word 'fretta' (haste) appears on your vocabulary list, how are you going to know to look under English 'friction' for its relationship? Similarly: German 'loeffel' (spoon) <> English 'lap (up)'; French 'aube' (dawn) <> English 'albino' <> IE *albho-; Irish 'dubh' (black) <> English 'deaf' <> IE *dheu-bh-; German 'hals' (neck) <> English 'collar' <> IE *kwel-; Spanish 'ladrillo' (brick) <> English 'lateral'; etc.
This is in fact a book that lets you deep-dive in the ocean of the English words and everyone can use it many ways. You can read it all the way to the end, flipping ramdomly all the pages, or you can utilize it whenever you want to search for the very early origin of some English word you just read about.
It is amazing! To go beyond Latin or Greek in the search of the meaning of a word, and almost never be let down by the dictionary, which even includes a English word index to facilitate your search? Yes, and a lot more.
This is one that I truly recommend for everyone interested in learning a little more on the origins of English.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The introductory essay delineates the methodology of language reconstruction and shows also how linguistic archeology can be used to reconstruct an ancient society. Read morePublished on February 13, 2014 by Stephen Griggs
Because English and most of the languages of Europe are Indo-European, this book is quite useful in providing the origin of many words in the ancient tongue from which they have... Read morePublished on April 29, 2011 by Ulfilas
When choosing the "right" word, I find this dictionary very helpful. Of course, the definition of a word and a discussion of usage in a standard dictionary should rationally... Read morePublished on December 31, 2010 by Inter Axion Inc.
Besides being well-organized, clear, and academically sound, this book serves as an excellent introduction for English speakers to learn about the ancient roots that connect... Read morePublished on April 4, 2010 by Z. Shihab
Recommended to me by a fellow lover of language, this guide gives a good glimpse into the roots not only of words but of concepts. Read morePublished on October 7, 2009 by scrivener
If you've found this book, congratulations! The American Heritage Dictionary is the best way of which I know to learn any and all Indo-European languages. Read morePublished on September 19, 2009 by Larry Rogers Logographic
This is a delightful book for people interested in language in general and Indo-European languages in particular. The introductory essay is very good.Published on June 4, 2009 by J. Savani
In this book, Calvert Watkins seeks to make the Indo-European linguistic hypothesis accessible to interested English readers who are not trained on the subject. Read morePublished on September 12, 2008 by Christopher R. Travers
This booklet is merely a reprint of the appendix found at the back of the American Heritage Dictionary. Read morePublished on May 9, 2007 by W. Vouk