- Series: Cambridge Language Surveys
- Paperback: 796 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; First Edition edition (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: 10 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Languages of Native North America (Cambridge Language Surveys) First Edition Edition
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'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
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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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.