WEMSK 44 -- Linguistics
1. A good start, if you have
read nothing in the field, is
Frederick Bodmer, The Loom of Language, ed. Lancelot Hogben (NY: W.
W. Norton, 1944). It is written by a non-linguist, but offers a
good survey. I know two well-known linguists who got their start
reading The Loom of Language. Reprinted many times.
2. There are a number of good
books offering a picture of where
linguistics was at mid-century. I recommend: Henry A. Gleason, An
Introduction to Desriptive Linguistics, revised ed. (NY: Holt,
Rinehart and Winston, 1961).
3. About mid-century, we had
an explosion of schools, models,
metaphors, and postures, so that it is difficult to give a picture
of where linguistics is at the millennium:
a. A good survey: William Bright,
ed., International Encyclopedia
of Linguistics, 4 vols. (NY: Oxford UP, 1992). A balanced survey in
(Miller) "a field notorious for arguments and quarrels."
b. A larger survey: R. E. Asher,
ed.-in-chief, The Encyclopedia of
Language and Linguistics, 10 vols. (Osvord: Pergamon Press, 1994).
Look particularly at vol. 10.
c. A smaller, but excellent,
survey: David Crystal, The Cambridge
Encyclopedia of Language, 2d ed. (Cambridge: CUP, 1997).
a. The best one-volume bibliography:
Anna L. DeMiller, Linguistics.
A Guide to the Reference Literature, 2d ed. (Englewood, CO:
Libraries Unlimited, 2000).
b. The standard periodical bibliography:
de l'annee ... Published by the Permqanent International Committee
of Linguists under the auspices of the International Council for
Philosophy and Humanistic Studies (Utrecht: Spectrum, 1948-. Often
called "the UNESCO bibliography".
5. Sometimes the best way to
get your feet on the ground in a
subject is through abstracts:
a. Linguistics and Language Behavior
Abstracts: LLBA (La Jolla, CA:
Sociological Abstracts, Inc., 1967-. Now available on CD-ROM from
Silver Platter, and online in most large libraries. "Abstracts of
the world's literature in linguistics and language-related
research, book abstracts, book review listings, and enhanced
bibliographic citations of relevant dissertations."
a. A very good guide to the often
perplexing terminology of modern
linguistics: Werner Abraham, Terminologie zur neuerer Linguistik,
2d ed. (Tuebingen: Niemeyer, 1988).
b. Peter H. Matthews, The Concise
Oxford Dictionary of Linguistics
(Oxford: OUP, 1997).
c. Robert L. Trask, The Dictionary
of Historical and Comparative
Linguistics (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2000).
7. Encyclopedia of Indo-European
Comparative Linguistics, 13 vols.
(London: Routledge, 1999). ISBN: 041520425. Not seen, but our
library has it on order. Sounds good.
a. Thomas A. Sebeok, ed., Current
Trends in Linguistics, 14 vols.
(The Hague: Mouton, 1961-73).
b. W. Sidney Allen, ed. Cambridge
Language Surveys (Cambridge: CUP,
9. Vocabulary: For the often
vexing question "how did they say it
a. A handy, not exhaustive, work
is: Carl D. Buck, A Dictionary of
Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages
(Chicago: UCP, 1949). It has even been reissued in paperback.
b. Another good source for vocabulary
and life: Oscar Schade and
Alfons Nehring, eds., Reallexikon der indogermanischen
Altertumskunde, 2d ed., 2 vols. (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1913-1929).
c. Interesting, but on a different
level: Emile Benveniste, Indo-
European Language and Society, transl. Elizabeth Palmer. Miami
Linguistics Series 12 (Coral Gables: University of Miami Press,
1973); transl. of Le vocabulaire des institutions indo-europeennes.
a. Stephen Ullmann, Semantics.
An Introduction to the Science of
Meaning (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1962); also his: The Principles of
Semantics, 2d ed. (NY: Barnes & Noble, 1957).
b. Gustaf Stern, Meaning and
the Change of Meaning (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 1965; repr. of a 1931 book). Good;
c. If you are familiar with literary
rhetoric, you already have an
idea of the directions changes in meaning are likely to take.
11. Comparative linguistics:
a. Antoine Meillet, Introduction
a l'etude comparative des langues
indo-europeennes. Alabama Linguistic and Philological Series #3
(University, AL: University of Alabama Press, 1964; repr. of a 1937
b. One of the best ways to catch
on to comparative and historical
linguistics is to work through one of the handbooks. The best is:
Carl D. Buck, Comparative Grammar of Greek and Latin (Chicago: UCP,
1933; 4th impression, 1948).
12. Lagniappe: Languages of the
World. There are now many books on
languages of the world. A start:
a. An old standby by two outstanding
linguists: Antoine Meillet and
Marcel Cohen, eds., Les langues du monde (Paris: CNRS, 1952). A new
edition is appearing; cf.: Jean Perrot, ed., Les langues dans le
monde ancien et modern (Paris: CNRS, 1981).
b. Ethnologue: Languages of the
World, 13th ed. (Dallas: Summer
Institute of Linguistics, 1996). This is the best of them, as far
as coverage is concerned. Has more than 6700 languages. Easily
consulted online: http://www.sil.org/. This is also a good site for
linguistics on the web. See also http://www.ethnologue.com/home.asp