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A Guide to the World's Languages: Volume I, Classification [Englisch] [Taschenbuch]

Merritt Ruhlen
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Kurzbeschreibung

August 1991
This is the first of three pathbreaking volumes that will constitute a wide-ranging analytical guide to the world's approximately 5,000 languages. The volumes are written for both linguists and general readers, and this first volume in particular assumes no background in linguistics. A postscript prepared for this paperback edition takes research data to 1990. The book is illustrated with 21 maps.

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Produktinformation

  • Taschenbuch: 492 Seiten
  • Verlag: Stanford University Press (August 1991)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0804718946
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804718943
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 22,9 x 15,3 x 2,7 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 4.3 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (3 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 1.612.146 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
  • Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen

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Produktbeschreibungen

Pressestimmen

"A definitive reference work on the classification of human languages with state-of-the-art freshness and great clarity." - Diachronica "It is interesting to read, is well documented and thorough, and is useful as a work of reference." - Modern Language Review

Synopsis

This is the first of three pathbreaking volumes that will constitute a wide-ranging analytical guide to the world's approximately 5,000 languages. The volumes are written for both linguists and general readers, and this first volume in particular assumes no background in linguistics. A postscript prepared for this paperback edition takes research data to 1990. The book is illustrated with 21 maps.

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4.3 von 5 Sternen
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5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen Opus Magnum 8. Dezember 2002
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This opus magnum (first of three volumes that will ultimately constitute a guide to the world's languages) addresses the genetic classification of languages. I'm not a trained linguistic but have a passionate interest in historical linguistics and I found this book easy to digest and illuminating. For a state-of-the-art reference work on classification, there is no equivalent! In each language family, the author traces the history of classification within that group and concludes with the very latest research. Each chapter has its own exhaustive bibliography and there is a bibliographic update. The book is illustrated with 21 helpful maps indicating the geographical spread of language families whilst countless tables and figures support the text. There are personal name, language group and language indexes plus a detailed Complete Classification comprising 77 pages. The last chapter, Postscript 1991, is the most fascinating of all since here the author discusses long-range comparisons, Nostratic/Eurasiatic, Amerind, Dene-Caucasian, human genetics as per the work of Cavalli-Sforza (Fig. 9.2: Comparison of the genetic tree and linguistic phyla). I highly recommended this work to all who are interested in linguistics, anthropology and the history of the human race.
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5.0 von 5 Sternen YOU MUST HAVE THIS ONE 20. August 1999
Von Ein Kunde
Format:Taschenbuch
You must have this book if you are a linguistics or anthropology major. It lists most of the world's languages and the book has an easy to read classification of them.
War diese Rezension für Sie hilfreich?
1 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Classification of languages 17. Juli 2000
Von Ein Kunde
Format:Taschenbuch
A very good book that does a lot of hard work in classifying an extremely large number of languages.
The author blindly assumes evolution as fact, and for this, I am disappointed. But, what to expect from secular scientists? The material is still valid.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 von 5 Sternen  5 Rezensionen
51 von 61 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Ruhlen starts well, but goes downhill 26. September 2001
Von Robert L. Trask - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Gebundene Ausgabe
This book has many virtues, or at least its first few chapters do. There is probably no other book which presents such a clear and detailed history of the attempts at classifying languages into families, both the successful attempts and the unsuccessful ones (though Ruhlen seldom acknowledges any unsuccessful ones). The reader will find a great deal of useful information here on this enterprise, information which is hard to find elsewhere.
However, as is well known, Ruhlen has a number of large and dangerous bees in his bonnet, and those bees gradually take over the book. By chapter 7, real linguistics has been left behind, and we read only about Ruhlen's bees.
The huge shortcoming is Ruhlen's willingness to accept, in a wholly uncritical manner, just about every speculative mega-grouping of languages which has ever been proposed. This weakness appears in the earlier chapters, as Ruhlen unhesitatingly accepts a series of increasingly dubious "families', like Uralic-Yukaghir, North Caucasian, Khoisan, Austric, and Indo-Pacific. It comes to a head in chapter 6, where Ruhlen wholeheartedly endorses the vast but shriekingly speculative "Amerind" family proposed by Joseph Greenberg. Chapter 6 is by far the poorest of the first six chapters, and the reader will find much better information on the classification of American languages in Lyle Campbell's American Indian Languages (Oxford, 1997).
Then, from chapter 7 onward, Ruhlen's bees take over entirely, and the book falls apart. Ruhlen's familiar lack of understanding of linguistic methodology comes to the fore, and he descends into increasingly ridiculous claims about method and about results. True, he notes the hostility of professional linguists to the speculations he defends, but he fails to tell the reader anything much about the powerful reasons for that hostility, and he attempts to present the objections as resulting from little more than bad temper and supposed incompetence.
Ruhlen's profound lack of understanding of the formidable difficulties involved in relating any languages at all reaches a nadir on page 383, where he draws a preposterous parallel with biological classification, suggesting that identifying a language family is a task on a par with recognizing a class of butterflies. He should have pursued this analogy: he might have found out just how difficult and controversial biological classification really is.
As always, Ruhlen wants the reader to believe that languages can be successfully classified by the mere collection of miscellaneous resemblances -- which they cannot, as every professional linguist knows all too well. Waving away the laws of probability, he assures us breezily, on pages 255-256, that chance resemblances among languages are unlikely, and that they can be dismissed from consideration. But anybody who who has looked carefully at a few languages knows that chance resemblances are enormously frequent and statistically unavoidable: we have only a few speech sounds with which to construct thousands and thousands of words in every language, and chance resemblances are always with us. Consider English 'much' and Spanish 'mucho' ('much'), which are unrelated, or Italian 'due' ('two') and Malay 'dua' ('two'), which are unrelated, or Basque 'elkar' ('each other') and Dutch 'elkaar' ('each other'), which are unrelated.
Impervious to criticism, Ruhlen ventures to classify all the world's languages into just a few "families": 17 on page 258, and then only 12 on page 390. Readers should be aware that these "families" are, in most cases, no more than Ruhlen's pipe-dreams. Real linguists recognize well over 300 established families, and reducing that number by even one is an almost Herculean enterprise, requiring vast amounts of painstaking work. But Ruhlen doesn't believe in hard work; he believes only in collecting miscellaneous lookalikes from the pages of bilingual dictionaries. For Ruhlen, comparative linguistics is a trivial task, requiring no training, no experience, and no knowledge of the languages being classified, and he advocates ignorance over knowledge.
There are a few irritations even in the sensible sections, such as Ruhlen's (acknowledged) eccentric use of 'Indo-Hittite' for what the rest of the world calls 'Indo-European' -- a use which may bewilder innocent readers.
In sum, this book is a largely reliable source of information on the history of attempts at classification. But Ruhlen's grandiose conclusions, and indeed everything after chapter 6, is best ignored: it's fantasy, no more.
Larry
20 von 23 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Approach with caution! 28. Oktober 2000
Von Richard Hershberger - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This is a useful work if approached with caution and taken with a grain of salt. There are two camps of comparative linguists: the clumpers and the splitters. Ruhlen is an extreme example of a clumper, placing languages into families based on tenuous evidence. He is also an excellent writer and an enthusiastic cheerleader. This has led some amateurs into accepting what is a marginal position among professional linguists. This does not mean that he is wrong, but that he should not necessarily be taken at face value.
Regardless of this, his tables are immensely helpful, so long as the reader is aware of which parts are established and which are more speculative.
Caveat lector.
25 von 34 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen BRILLIANT, AN OPUS MAGNUM! 31. August 2000
Von Pieter Uys - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
This opus magnum (first of three volumes that will ultimately constitute a guide to the world's languages) addresses the genetic classification of languages. I'm not a trained linguistic but have a passionate interest in historical linguistics and I found this book easy to digest and illuminating. For a state-of-the-art reference work on classification, there is no equivalent! In each language family, the author traces the history of classification within that group and concludes with the very latest research. Each chapter has its own exhaustive bibliography and there is a bibliographic update. The book is illustrated with 21 helpful maps indicating the geographical spread of language families whilst countless tables and figures support the text. There are personal name, language group and language indexes plus a detailed Complete Classification comprising 77 pages. The last chapter, Postscript 1991, is the most fascinating of all since here the author discusses long-range comparisons, Nostratic/Eurasiatic, Amerind, Dene-Caucasian, human genetics as per the work of Cavalli-Sforza (Fig. 9.2: Comparison of the genetic tree and linguistic phyla). I highly recommended this work to all who are interested in linguistics, anthropology and the history of the human race.
10 von 27 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
5.0 von 5 Sternen YOU MUST HAVE THIS ONE 20. August 1999
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
You must have this book if you are a linguistics or anthropology major. It lists most of the world's languages and the book has an easy to read classification of them.
4 von 65 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Classification of languages 17. Juli 2000
Von Ein Kunde - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format:Taschenbuch
A very good book that does a lot of hard work in classifying an extremely large number of languages.
The author blindly assumes evolution as fact, and for this, I am disappointed. But, what to expect from secular scientists? The material is still valid.
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