Languages of the World: An Introduction

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2012-03-19
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press

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What do all human languages have in common and in what ways are they different? How can language be used to trace different peoples and their past? Are certain languages similar because of common descent or language contact? Assuming no prior knowledge of linguistics, this textbook introduces readers to the rich diversity of human languages, familiarizing students with the variety and typology of languages around the world. Linguistic terms and concepts are explained, in the text and in the glossary, and illustrated with simple, accessible examples. Eighteen language maps and numerous language family charts enable students to place a language geographically or genealogically. A supporting website includes additional language maps and sound recordings that can be used to illustrate the peculiarities of the sound systems of various languages. 'Test yourself' questions throughout the book make it easier for students to analyze data from unfamiliar languages.

Table of Contents

List of figuresp. ix
List of mapsp. x
List of tablesp. xi
Words, words, words…p. xiii
Acknowledgementsp. xv
Abbreviations used in the glossesp. xvi
Introductionp. 1
Languages, dialects and accentsp. 4
Language familiesp. 7
Linguistic diversityp. 11
Indo-European languagesp. 13
Discovery of the Indo-European family and comparative reconstructionp. 13
The Indo-European controversyp. 21
The Indo-European realmp. 27
Focus on: Lesser-known Indo-European languagesp. 32
Non-Indo-European languages of Europe and Indiap. 39
Finno-Ugric languagesp. 39
Basquep. 48
Dravidian languagesp. 52
Focus on: Universals and the parametric theory of languagep. 56
Languages of the Caucasusp. 64
Northwest Caucasian languagesp. 66
Northeast Caucasian languagesp. 67
Kartvelian languagesp. 73
Indo-European languages in the Caucasusp. 77
Focus on: Field linguisticsp. 81
Languages of Northern Africa, Middle East and Central Asiap. 86
Turkic languagesp. 86
Semitic languagesp. 92
Focus on: Language contactp. 99
Languages of sub-Saharan Africap. 105
Nilo-Saharan languagesp. 106
Niger-Congo languagesp. 109
Khoisan languagesp. 117
Focus on: Official languages, trade languages and creole languages in sub-Saharan Africap. 120
Languages of eastern Asiap. 124
Sino-Tibetan languagesp. 124
Austro-Asiatic languagesp. 132
Tai-Kadai languagesp. 136
Focus on: Isolating morphology and language changep. 139
Languages of the South Sea Islandsp. 143
The Austronesian realmp. 143
The Austronesian prototypep. 146
The Polynesian controversyp. 155
Focus on: The mystery of Malagasyp. 160
Aboriginal languages of Australia and Papua New Guineap. 166
Languages of Papua New Guineap. 168
Languages of Australiap. 173
Focus on: Is Dyirbal a primitive language?p. 177
Native languages of the Americasp. 183
Languages of North Americap. 184
Languages of Meso-Americap. 194
Languages of South Americap. 197
Focus on: The Pirahã controversyp. 201
Macro familiesp. 205
Afroasiatic languagesp. 205
Uralic languagesp. 209
Altaic languagesp. 211
The Nostratic and Eurasiatic hypothesesp. 218
Other hypothesized macro language familiesp. 225
Pidgins, creoles and other mixed languagesp. 230
Pidginsp. 231
Creolesp. 237
Mixed Jewish languagesp. 244
Glossaryp. 254
Referencesp. 260
Index of languagesp. 271
Index of termsp. 277
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