BC – Philology; Languages and Linguistics

Geschichte der Schrift [History of Writing]. Harald Haarmann. München: Beck, 2002. 128 p. ill. 18 cm. (Beck’sche Reihe, 2198; C.H. Beck Wissen). ISBN 3-406-47998-8: EUR 7.90 [07-1-060]

This is a popularized treatment of Harald Haarmann’s comprehensive publication Universalgeschichte der Schrift [Universal History of Writing]. In this publication, Haarmann controversially identified the Danube River Valley’s Vinča culture as the birthplace of writing, contrary to the commonly held belief that writing was developed in Mesopotamia first. Geschichte der Schrift traces the evolution of writing from pictographs to phonetic signs and alphabets, covers e-books and illiteracy, and includes a short history of writing in Europe, a story that differs greatly in the Roman Catholic-influenced Latin west and the Eastern Orthodox-influenced east with its Greek and Cyrillic alphabets. This stimulating book includes much material and original observations on one of the most important achievements of humankind. [ks/rg]

Weltgeschichten der Sprachen: von der Frühzeit des Menschen bis zur Gegenwart [World History of Languages: From Early Human Beings to the Present]. Harald Haarmann. München: Beck, 2006. 397 p. maps. 19 cm. (Beck’sche Reihe, 1703). ISBN 978-3-406-55120-8: EUR 14.90 [07-1-061]

The author explains old and new theories on the origin and development of languages in a clear, convincing, and scholarly tone. This is a multidisciplinary overview of the subject, including research from the fields of anthropology, archaeology, medicine, genetics, and numerous other humanities and science disciplines. The story begins in Africa circa 100,000 years ago, spreads to Eurasia and then through Australia, Siberia, and the New World. Modern languages can be traced to the hypothetical Nostratic language family of 10,000 years ago. The Indo-European language family and the other language families are treated separately, with emphasis given to the former. The book covers topics such as the effects of agriculture, iron processing, language contact, and globalization on language, as well as writing systems, pidgin languages, linguistic minorities and language obsolescence, the current dominance of English, and the future of languages. This publication is of interest to amateurs as well as scholars. [ks/rg]

Internationale Bibliographie zur germanistischen Lexikographie und Wörterbuchforschung: mit Berücksichtigung anglistischer, nordistischer, romanistischer, slavistischer und weiterer metalexikographischer Forschungen [International Bibliography of Germanic Lexicology and Dictionary Research: with Consideration of English, Nordic, Romantic, Slavic and Additional Lexicographical Research]. Herbert Ernst Wiegand. Berlin: de Gruyter. 25 cm. [07-2-355]

Vol 1. A-H. 2006. xliv, 795 p. ISBN 978-3-11-013758-3: EUR 228

Vol. 2. I-R. 2006. vi, 660 p. ISBN 3-11-019026-5: EUR 228

Vol. 3. S-Z. 2007. vii, 820 p. ISBN 978-3-11-019027-4: EUR 228

Herbert Ernst Wiegand was a professor of Germanic linguistics for nearly 30 years at the University of Heidelberg and founder of the serial Lexicographica. Wiegand’s new bibliography, which began as a hand-written card catalog of citations, is the result of his career-long interest in dictionary studies, both theoretical and applied. The bibliography is selective rather than comprehensive and has a strong emphasis on Germanic languages, although others are also covered, as the subtitle indicates. Entries include titles, category of work, publication information, and sometimes-short annotations. A fourth volume is expected to contain additional citations. [sh/ldb]

Handbuch der deutschen Sprachminderheiten in Mittel- und Osteuropa [Handbuch of the German-Speaking Minorities in Central and Eastern Europe]. Ed. Ludwig M. Eichinger, Albrecht Plewnia, and Claudia Maria Riehl. Tübingen: Narr, 2008. x, 392 p. ill. 25 cm. ISBN 978-3-8233-6298-2: EUR 78 [07-2-357]

Sponsored by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft and the Institute for the German Language, this handbook takes on the quality of a visit to a museum. Little remains of the German-speaking minorities and their communities in Central and Eastern Europe, thus the purpose of this work is the painstaking registration and documentation of their history for future generations.

In the foreword, the editor Ludwig Eichinger sets down the topics to be covered in each chapter: (1) geography; (2) demography; (3) history; (4) economics, politics, culture, and legal status; (5) sociolinguistic situation; (6) language use and competence; (7) language attitudes; (8) specific factors; and (9) bibliography.

While the people who moved farther east came from different parts of Germany and even neighboring countries (e.g., Flanders), and the communities were quite diverse, the language of these communities was German. There are seven chapters: Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania. Lacking is information on German “language islands” in the Baltic States, the former Yugoslavia, and Moldova. Because of wrenching factors of resettlement, expulsion, and ethnic cleansing, one might reasonably ask whether any of the remaining German minorities can survive for even another generation.

The geographic chapters are based on present-day geopolitical boundaries, and some German language islands in Russian or Ukrainian regions, such as Bessarabia, Bashkortostan, and Tatarstan are covered as well, although Kazakhstan is not included, since it is now outside Russia. The chapter on Poland is confined to Silesia and more specifically to Oppeln/Opole, the only officially recognized German-minority locality in present-day Poland. The Carpathian Germans in Slovakia were smaller in number than in the Czech lands of Czechoslovakia, but they suffered much the same fate, as did the German minority in Hungary. In communist Romania, on the other hand, the German minority was allowed to stay and was granted official status, and the use and teaching of German in grade schools was encouraged. Even today, Romania’s progressive minority-rights policy has seldom been duplicated in the rest of Europe.

This very informative handbook is furnished with numerous tables, statistics, and basic facts. It includes an appendix with sample texts of the German variant spoken in Romania today, although unfortunately not for German in any other country. [ks/ga]

Deutschlernen in den polnischen Ländern vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1918: eine teilkommentierte Bibliographie [Learning German in the Polish Lands from the 15th Century to 1918: A Partially Annotated Bibliography]. Helmut Glück and Konrad Schröder. Ed. Yvonne Pörzgen and Marcelina Tkocz. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2007. xlviii, 271 p. ill. 25 cm. (Fremdsprachen in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 2). ISBN 978-3-447-05471-3: EUR 68 [07-1-062]

In 2003 Helmut Glück and others published a similar bibliography on Czech-German language contact: Deutsche Sprachbücher in Böhmen und Mähren vom 15. Jahrhundert bis 1918: eine teilkommentierte Bibliographie (see RREA 9:69). Also of relevance to both areas is the seven-volume Biographisches und bibliographisches Lexikon der Fremdsprachenlehrer des deutschsprachigen Raumes, Spätmittelalter bis 1800 (see RREA 7:77).

Regarding the present work, Poland’s immediate neighbor to the west has always had great significance, whether in bad times (war and conflict) or good (intensive cultural and economic relations). Germany has been a major trading partner and in certain periods a country of employment and immigration. Knowing German, therefore, has been an important means of cultivating and expanding economic and cultural relations, tourism included.

This bibliography begins with imprints from the early 15th-century: conversationand phrase-books (colloquia), grammars, dictionaries, and later books on language instruction in the modern sense of the term. The crash-course language manual for tourists is timeless. Questions such as how many miles [sic] to the next town/tavern [kreczmer] were as valid in 1523 as they are today.

This historical period begins with Poland’s Golden Age in the 15th century and ends with her reunification in 1918 after 125 years of partition. The authors in their 19-page introduction describe the historical background and changing German-Polish relations as they affected language learning and instruction. It would be cavalier to assume that learning the other’s language went only from east to west. Many of these titles, for example, Polnische Büchlein, sehr nötig zum Erlernen des Polnischen und zugleich auch auf das Deutsche hin ausgelegt [Polish Booklets, Being Very Necessary for the Learning of Polish and German at the Same Time] (Krakau, 1539) are intended to help Germans learn and understand Polish and Poles. Polonization of Germans was not uncommon.

Altogether, the bibliography lists 443 titles and closes with an extensive selection of scholarly secondary literature as well as name and place indexes. It might have been helpful to include some title pages and other illustrations to give readers a more vivid impression of the works in question. In any case, this bibliography documents an important cultural-historical aspect of German-Polish relations over the last 1,000 years. [ks/ga]

Dictionnaire créole martiniquais-français [Martiniquan Créole-French Dictionary]. Raphaël Confiant. 2 vols. Matoury, Guyane: Ibis Rouge, 2007. 1427 p. 24 cm. ISBN 9782844503077: EUR 69

An RREA Original Review by Sarah G. Wenzel (University of Chicago)

Celebrated author Raphaël Confiant turns his attention to lexicography in compiling this extensive dictionary of over 15,000 headwords. The introduction clearly states as a purpose for this work the desire to preserve and defend créole [French Creole languages] and makes a strong argument for language planning to support this aim. This dictionary follows his 2001 Dictionnaire des néologismes créoles [Dictionary of French Creole Neologisms] (Petit-Bourg, Guadeloupe, 2001- ), which itself was “résolument pan-créole [resolutely pan-créole].”

The Dictionnaire covers Martiniquan créole stabilisé [stabilized créole], both as consolidated and described in grammars dating from 1869 to 2003 and as obtained through oral interviews. The dictionary does include neologisms but excludes mots virtuels [virtual words]. (These potential words, a vocabulary that could exist because of the flexibility of the language, are similar to the concept in English of compound nouns.) Entries are drawn from both formal and informal sources; they include even words only documented once.

Prefatory matter also includes a bibliography of works composed in créole and works used as references for this dictionary. Words have been drawn from both formal and informal sources. A register is provided as necessary. Loan words from other créoles are also noted.

Each word is given a brief definition; many are then used in a sentence (also translated into French). Citations are provided in many cases. Pronunciation is not given. Word etymologies are present, with the exception of words that clearly come from the French and those whose origin is uncertain. The author did not draw from Pierre Anglade’s Inventaire étymologique des terms créoles des Caraïbes d’origine africaine [Etymological Inventory of Caribbean Créole Words of African Origin] (Paris, 1998). When appropriate, synonyms are noted.

While there are other reference works dealing with Caribbean créoles, there is no other dictionary covering Martinique specifically. (For the sake of dispelling possible confusion, it may be worth noting that the French–but resolutely not the créole–of Martinique and Guadeloupe is the subject of Sylviane Techid’s Dictionnaire du français régional des Antilles [Dictionary of the Regional French of the Antilles]: Guadeloupe, Martinique (Paris, 1997).) Libraries collecting linguistics, Caribbean literature, or other Caribbean studies will want to add this Dictionnaire créole martiniquais-français to their collections.

Diccionario de nombres propios [Dictionary of Forenames]. Roberto Faure. Madrid: Espasa, 2007. xxv, 861 p. 19 cm. (Diccionario léxico Espasa). ISBN 9788467023756: EUR 18.75

An RREA Original Review by Jeffry Larson (Yale University)

The field of anthroponomy is rife with popular guides or lists of personal names and their brief etymologies. Furthermore, Spanish publishers have a tendency to reprint their wares without material editorial changes. Therefore, this area is a collectiondevelopment minefield, even if the costs are not high.

Roberto Faure’s Diccionario de nombres propios serves to complement the same publisher’s earlier Diccionario de apellidos españoles [Dictionary of Spanish Surnames] (Madrid, 2001), of which he is a co-author. Yet the relationship is not precisely complementary. As indicated by the subtitle on the cover (más de 13.000 nombres propios de todo el mundo) [more than 13,000 personal names from around the world]), they differ in geographical scope; for example, the former includes “Winston,” while the latter does not include “Churchill.”

Coverage is primarily from the Tridentine calendar of saints’ days, in Castilian, with some treatment of other cultures. The 4,096 entries typically provide the masculine, if appropriate, as well as the original form of the name, say in ancient languages (Greek fonts are displayed, with a table of equivalences and the Latinized transcription), followed by the etymology and meaning of at least its roots. Faure also provides a name’s historical or legendary origins, occasions of its growing popularity, well-known personages bearing it, the name day in the Church calendar, and its recent literary or cultural occurrences. Not all the names correspond to real persons. A name’s familiar forms, especially from Spain and Europe, give rise to cross-references. Faure also offers an index of variant names.

While Faure provides more than a list of names for your baby, sources of his data are only occasionally cited in the entries, so for titles of sources, one will generally have to make use of the two-page bibliography.

Because so many Western surnames are derived from forenames, any collection that has or acquires the Diccionario de nombres propios will also want to have the Diccionario de apellidos españoles. See, for example, the entries for “García” in the two Diccionarios.

A comparable work is Josep M. Albaigès, Enciclopedia de los nombres propios [Encyclopedia of Proper Names] (Barcelona, 1996), with a less scholarly approach. Albaigès is broader, also touching on toponyms, and offers categorical tables, e.g., of “ugly” names, frequent names, names of different religious or ethnic origins, etc., arranged topically with an alphabetical index.

Unfortunately, the gap between scholarly lexicology and popular lexica remains in Spain; neither Faure nor Albaigès is cited by Elena Bajo Pérez, in her scholarly introduction to the field, El nombre propio en español [The Proper Name in Spanish] (Madrid, 2008).

Any collection that serves a Hispanic public or research interest should have these Diccionarios, and probably most of the titles cited in their brief bibliographies.

Slavistik-Computer-Internet: Rechneranwendungen in einer Geisteswissenschaft [Slavic Studies; Computer; Internet: Computer Applications in a Humanistic Discipline]. Ed. Thomas Bruns. Frankfurt am Main: Lang, 2002. 148 p. ill. 21 cm. (Trierer Abhandlungen zur Slavistik, 4). ISBN 3-631-50171-4: EUR 34 [07-2-359]

The body of online resources dedicated to Slavic studies has been growing exponentially in recent years, from the Aktive deutsch-niedersorbische Wörterbuch [Active German-Lower Sorbian Dictionary] (http://www.dolnoserbski.de/dnw/info.htm) to the well-known European bibliography of Slavic and East European studies (EBSEES), a freely-available database archived with the Berlin State Library (www.slavistik-portal.de/; see RREA 2:282).

Thomas Bruns’ work under discussion brings together seven articles on the application of digital resources for Slavic studies that originated as conference presentations at the Eighth German Slavists’ Conference [VIII Deutscher Slavistentag] in 2001. The presentations cover topics such as the promise of Russian as a computer language, online literary magazines in the post-Soviet space, the significance of the Internet for the study of lexicography, and its application in language pedagogy. Due to the rapidity of changes in the Internet world, much of this information has been superseded by more recent publications. This title is appropriate for libraries with extensive holdings in Slavic studies. [ks/as]

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Last update: October 2010 [LC]
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