BC - Philology; Languages and Linguistics
1000 Sprachen: lebendig, gefährdet, vergangen [Translation of: One Thousand Languages: Living, Endangered, and Lost]. Ed. Peter K. Austin. Transl. Martina Wiese. Heidelberg: Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, 2009. 288 p. ill. maps. ISBN 978-3-8274-2100-5: EUR 39.95
Even though the London linguist Peter Austin examines only 1,000 of the world’s estimated 6,900 languages, this encyclopedic survey quickly reaches the boundaries of what is possible in 300 pages. It can only be a sketch, but it is sufficient for the wider public who does not want detailed information. Other, chiefly scholarly publications are Merritt Ruhlen’s A Guide to the World’s Languages (Stanford, 1987-9), Bernard Comrie’s The World’s Major Languages (London, 1987), Barbara F. Grimes' Ethnologue: Languages of the World, 11th ed. (Dallas, 1988, and now freely accessible at http://www. ethnologue.com), Albrecht Klose’s Sprachen der Welt: ein weltweiter Index [Languages of the World: A Worldwide Index], 2d ed. (München, 2001), Harald Haarman’s Sprachen-Almanach [Almanac of Languages] (Frankfurt, 2002), and Jane Garry and Carl Rubino’s Facts about the World’s Languages: An Encyclopedia (New York, 2001).
This German translation appears only a year after the English original. In his introduction the editor points out some basic problems, such as the distinction between a language and a dialect, and relations among languages in contact with one another. The section on living languages begins with a chapter on 11 world languages, listed by number of speakers: Chinese, English, Hindi, Spanish, Russian, Bengali, Arabic, Portuguese, French, German, and Japanese. The remaining languages are divided by geographic and linguistic criteria, with a different author for each chapter: European languages; North and West African languages; Central, Eastern, and Southern African languages; South Asian languages; Central, West and North Asian languages; Australian and Pacific languages; and languages of North and South America. Other categories are threatened languages and extinct languages. Color illustrations, maps, and a glossary add to the design of the work. There a few questionable points, which can hardly be avoided in a work of this scope. This admirable work for the general public delivers what it promises. [ks/gh]
Deutschlernen in Russland und in den baltischen Ländern vom 17. Jahrhundert bis 1941: eine teilkommentierte Bibliographie [Learning German in Russia and the Baltic Countries from the 17th Century to 1941: A Partially Annotated Bibliography]. Helmut Glück und Yvonne Pörzgen. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2009. li, 399 p. ill. 25 cm. (Fremdsprachen in Geschichte und Gegenwart, 6). ISBN 978-3-447-05842-1: EUR 76]
For centuries, German occupied an important place in the Baltic region as the lingua franca of trade and cultural exchange. The present book provides a window into the interactions between German and the native languages of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Russia. Language-learning was a two-way street: while German students in settlements learned the local languages in addition to their own, their Baltic and Russian counterparts made efforts to master German. This made German the dominant second language to be taught in Russian, Estonian, and Latvian schools from the 17th century until the start of World War II (in interwar Lithuania Polish was the lingua franca). In the early days, German-language instruction to non-native speakers was often delivered through the reverse use of textbooks intended for the study of local languages.
The book begins with an extensive introduction and a list of abbreviations. The 375- page bibliographical section contains 104 extensive, chronologically-ordered entries for Estonia, 95 for Latvia, 50 for Lithuania, and 395 for Russia. Among the genres represented in the book are glossaries, dictionaries, pronunciation guides, and study grammars. Because early teaching materials were often discarded after outliving their usefulness, and seldom made their way to library shelves, the bibliography lists quite a few early titles of which no copies have survived.
The book's extensive scholarly apparatus comprises a bibliography of secondary literature and indexes of personal names/publishers and places. This valuable contribution to scholarship is warmly recommended for academic library collections. [ks/as]
Verbes sages et verbes fous [Wise Verbs and Foolish Verbs]. Michel Arrivé. Paris: Editions Belin, 2010. 286 p. 18 cm. ISBN 9782701155289: EUR 7
An RREA Original Review by Emmanuelle H. Bonnafoux (University of Chicago)
This small volume is an alphabetically-arranged collection of about 250 French verbs that have appeared or gained new meanings within the past 10 years, mostly under the influence of journalists, and therefore have not made it yet into the revered Robert or Larousse dictionaries. A professor emeritus in linguistics, Michel Arrivé traces back the origins of each verb, dwelling on what makes it „foolish“ or „wise,“ depending on its conjugation or the circumstances of its appearance in the French language. He tells us, for instance, why fiche is the only French verb whose infinitive form bears no –r, and how courir has been surreptitiously used as a transitive verb. It is worth noting that this pocket volume is a considerably expanded and revised version of a now outof- print illustrated edition (Limoges, 2005), which contained only 160 entries. It is a rather entertaining book to flip through, yet, as many verbs were artificially coined by journalists in very specific contexts, some entries are more anecdotal than informative. One example is the fleetingly used dousteblazouiller, a derogatory reference to the handling of a particular healthcare reform by Philippe Douste-Blazy, a former French minister of health.
Verbes sages et verbes fous would not be a good fit for a general reference collection, but it may be of interest for libraries that support a strong academic program in French linguistics.
Enciclopedia del español en los Estados Unidos [Encyclopedia of Spanish in the United States]. Ed. Humberto López Morales. Madrid: Instituto Cervantes: Español Santillana, 2009. 1198 p. ill. 28 cm. ISBN 978-84-934772-1-9: EUR 37
An RREA Original Review by David D. Oberhelman (Oklahoma State University)
With Spanish speakers comprising 15 percent of the American people, the fastestgrowing segment of the population, the United States has become a center for the Spanish language on the global scene. The Cervantes Institute, an organization created in 1991 by the Spanish government to promote the study of the Spanish language and the Hispanic cultural heritage worldwide, has published many valuable guides and reference works; it fills a major gap in the field with its Enciclopedia del español en los Estados Unidos, a comprehensive encyclopedia of Spanish as it is spoken and written in the United States. This nearly 1,200-page compendium, consisting of over 80 essays by distinguished sociologists, linguists, literary scholars, writers, and journalists from the United States, Spain, and Latin America, offers an in-depth analysis of the Spanish language and its cultural, political, artistic, and economic roles in North America.
The encyclopedia begins with a consideration of the history of Spanish settlement in the New World and a broad demographic overview of the various Hispanic groups residing in the United States (of Puerto Rican, Mexican, Cuban, Dominican, and other national backgrounds), with tables, statistics, and maps. It also covers the unique political relationship of Puerto Rico to the continental United States. The survey of the Spanish dialects spoken in the United States is particularly usefully for linguists, and the encyclopedia also covers issues related to the language such as „Spanglish,“ bilingualism, and the teaching of Spanish as a foreign language in American schools up to the post-secondary level. The essays on the „English Only“ movement and the legislative controversies surrounding Spanish-speakers are especially useful in helping an international audience understand the many aspects of the language debate in contemporary American politics. The encyclopedia also provides an excellent discussion of Spanish-language publishing, literary texts, theater, and media outlets in the United States. Following the bibliography of works in both Spanish and English, which will be of great benefit to researchers, the book concludes with indexes of names, places, ethnic groups, words and phrases, and institutions and publications.
This volume will be invaluable to scholars and students of Spanish and Hispanic culture who seek to understand the nature of the Spanish-language presence in a predominantly English-speaking nation, together with the profound influence that Hispanic culture has had upon American history and society.
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Last update: January 2013 [LC]
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