- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: Routledge; 3 edition (March 21 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0415250048
- ISBN-13: 978-0415250047
- Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.3 x 23.4 cm
- Shipping Weight: 662 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #860,658 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Languages of the World Paperback – Mar 21 2002
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'A reference tool for all linguists as well as a collector's item for those in allied fields, enabling even an amateur to identify foreign scripts with ease and satisfaction ... to be recommended.' - Modern Language Review
'A wholly fascinating mini-kaleidoscope indicating the largely diverse variety of the world's main languages and their scripts and of their cultures.' - The Good Book Guide
About the Author
Prior to his recent retirement, Kenneth Katzner worked for the US government and also served as an editor on a number of international encyclopedias and English dictionaries. He is also author of a large English-Russian/Russian-English Dictionary.
Top customer reviews
Each language listed is presented with a sample such as a poem or proverb followed by an English transliteration. Also included is the number of people who speak it, and in what different parts of the world. The languages' family, idiocyncracies, major grammar points, alphabet, and stresses are noted. As an example, here's a paraphrase of the Finnish language presented in the book:
Spoken by 5 million speakers in Finland, 70,000 in the U.S., 200,000 in Sweden and 50,000 in Russia. Finnish is one of the few languages in Europe that is not of the Indo-European languages family. Like Estonian, it belongs to the Finno-Ugric languages which are a branch derived from the Uralic family. Finnish is difficult language to learn for Western native speakers because of it's non Indo-European origins and the the fact that it has 15 noun cases.
Also in the beginning is a biography of the families of languages and explanations of the migrations of people, many thousands of years ago, that has created the current multi-varied linguistic make up of our world today.
So if you want to look at Tibetan and say to yourself, "Gee, that's a nice looking bit of writing", this is a good book for you. If you have any linguistic training, this will be a nice curiousity on yor shelf. If you want to know more about Tibetan (or any of the other languages included), it will be a disappointment.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
It's a very fun (if you like that sort of thing) summary of around 200 langauges from around the world, ranging from the well known [French, English, Spanish] to the obscure [Avar, Faroese]. I will admit that until I picked this up, I had NO idea how many languages were spoken in the former Soviet Union.
While the book is generally VERY well done, I would have liked to see a few things handled differently.
1. Actual translations (rather than adapted translations) of the poetry, to give the reader a better sense of the structure and flow of the language and the sorts of words used.
2. Transliterations of non-Roman alphabet languages -- again, to give the reader a better sense of how the language actually sounds.
3. (Especially for the more obscure languages ...) some discussion of printing and publishing in these languages. How many books/newspapers are published each year in, say, Maltese or Nenets, as compared to English or French.
Despite these minor flaws, highly recommended.
My two main gripes with the book are: 1) there isn't enough information about individual languages, especially those with non-Roman character sets; and 2) there are some errors that need to be corrected. One of the most glaring errors that I noticed within 3 minutes of opening the new edition is Katzner's remark that the ß (eszet) character was totally eliminated from the German language in the 1998 spelling reform. This is undeniably false.
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