Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More than 400 Languages

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9780231115681: Dictionary of Languages: The Definitive Reference to More than 400 Languages

Approximately how many languages compose the Bantu language group of central and southern Africa? What is the name of the language spoken in Hawaii by an estimated two thousand people? What Western European language is not known to be related to any other language family in the world―and is considered by linguists to be one of the most difficult to learn?

These are only a few of the questions language lovers, linguists, and lay readers will be able to answer with the Dictionary of Languages―an easy-to-navigate, authoritative guide to the world's languages and language groups at the end of the twentieth century. Andrew Dalby had the needs and interests of general readers in mind when he compiled this comprehensive reference work―most other language guides are written for scholars, and many include little or none of the absorbing social, cultural, geographic, and historical details that are brought together here.

In the Dictionary of Languages, readers will find:

a selection of four hundred languages and language groups, arranged alphabetically, with rich, detailed descriptions of the genesis, development, and current status of each;

more than two hundred maps displaying where the languages are spoken today;

sidebars showing alphabets, numerals, and other enriching facts

a comprehensive index listing additional languages, guiding readers to the nearest language groups with full writeups and maps;

charts breaking down large language groups―such as Bantu or Austroasiatic languages―by geographic region and approximate number of speakers.

In a world where geopolitical boundaries often explain little about the people that live within them, where we may read about Kurd and Khmer in the same newspaper and be expected to be conversant about each―if not conversant in each―Dalby's single, information-packed volume helps us make sense of the rich mosaic of world languages.

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Review:

This new tome of tongues is one of the most remarkable general reference works of the century. From Abkhaz and Abaza (300,000 speakers in Georgia, Turkey, and Russia) to Zulu (8,800,000 speakers in South Africa and Lesotho), Dalby comprehensively details more than 400 languages (living and dead), arranged A-to-Z for easy access, and delving into the political, social, and historical background of each. In addition, more than 200 maps indicate where the languages are spoken today, while sidebars show alphabets, numerals, and anecdotes.

If you've got even a passing interest in linguistics, this work of erudition is addictively browsable. In the entry on Greek is an insert on the dialect of Tsakonian. Spoken only in an inaccessible mountain district in the Peloponnese, it's a direct descendant of the ancient Greek Doric dialect. And Fulani is spoken by some 15,000,000 individuals in West Africa, thanks to the migrant, pastoral lifestyle of the Fulani people, which spread the language across the Western Sudan such that it is now a national language in Guinea, Niger, and Mali. The section on Australian languages notes that when Europeans first began to explore the continent, there were about 300 languages spoken by the people who lived there, with up to 12 existing on the island of Tasmania alone. In addition, Dalby explains "mother-in-law languages," separate speech registers that most Australian tongues have, with different vocabulary and sometimes even different sound patterns, for use in the presence of a taboo relative, such as a man's mother-in-law.

Honorary Librarian at the Institute of Linguists and a regular contributor to their journal The Linguist, Andrew Dalby makes it both easy and inviting to learn about the languages of the world. --Stephanie Gold

Book Description:

Approximately how many languages compose the Bantu language group of central and southern Africa? What Western European language is not known to be related to any other language family in the world―and is considered by linguists to be one of the most difficult to learn? This fascinating and singularly authoritative guide to the social, cultural, and historical foundations of more than four hundred languages and language groups in the world today answers these questions and more.

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Book Description Columbia University Press, United States, 1999. Hardback. Book Condition: New. Language: English . This book usually ship within 10-15 business days and we will endeavor to dispatch orders quicker than this where possible. Brand New Book. Approximately how many languages compose the Bantu language group of central and southern Africa? What is the name of the language spoken in Hawaii by an estimated two thousand people? What Western European language is not known to be related to any other language family in the world-and is considered by linguists to be one of the most difficult to learn? These are only a few of the questions language lovers, linguists, and lay readers will be able to answer with the Dictionary of Languages-an easy-to-navigate, authoritative guide to the world s languages and language groups at the end of the twentieth century. Andrew Dalby had the needs and interests of general readers in mind when he compiled this comprehensive reference work-most other language guides are written for scholars, and many include little or none of the absorbing social, cultural, geographic, and historical details that are brought together here. In the Dictionary of Languages, readers will find: *a selection of four hundred languages and language groups, arranged alphabetically, with rich, detailed descriptions of the genesis, development, and current status of each; *more than two hundred maps displaying where the languages are spoken today; *sidebars showing alphabets, numerals, and other enriching facts *a comprehensive index listing additional languages, guiding readers to the nearest language groups with full writeups and maps; *charts breaking down large language groups-such as Bantu or Austroasiatic languages-by geographic region and approximate number of speakers. In a world where geopolitical boundaries often explain little about the people that live within them, where we may read about Kurd and Khmer in the same newspaper and be expected to be conversant about each-if not conversant in each-Dalby s single, information-packed volume helps us make sense of the rich mosaic of world languages. Bookseller Inventory # BTE9780231115681

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