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The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (Oxford Linguistics) [Paperback]

J. P. Mallory , D. Q. Adams
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

9 Nov 2006 0199296685 978-0199296682
This book introduces Proto-Indo-European and explores what the language reveals about the people who spoke it. The Proto-Indo-Europeans lived somewhere in Europe or Asia between 5,500 and 8,000 years ago, and no text of their language survives. J. P. Mallory and Douglas Adams show how over the last two centuries scholars have reconstructed it from its descendant languages, the surviving examples of which comprise the world's largest language family. After a concise account of Proto-Indo-European grammar and a consideration of its discovery, they use the reconstructed language and related evidence from archaeology and natural history to examine the lives, thoughts, passions, culture, society, economy, history, and environment of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. Our distant ancestors had used the wheel, were settled arable farmers, kept sheep and cattle, brewed beer, got married, made weapons, and had 27 verbs for the expression of strife. The subjects to which the authors devote chapters include fauna, flora, family and kinship, clothing and textiles, food and drink, space and time, emotions, mythology, religion, and the continuing quest to discover the Proto-Indo-European homeland.

Proto-Indo-European-English and English-Proto-Indo-European vocabularies and full indexes conclude the book. Written in a clear, readable style and illustrated with maps, figures, and tables, this book is on a subject of great and enduring fascination. It will appeal to students of languages, classics, and the ancient world, as well as to general readers interested in the history of language and of early human societies.

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The Oxford Introduction to Proto-Indo-European and the Proto-Indo-European World (Oxford Linguistics) + Indo-European Language and Culture: An Introduction (Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics) + The Horse, the Wheel, and Language: How Bronze-Age Riders from the Eurasian Steppes Shaped the Modern World
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Product details

  • Paperback: 760 pages
  • Publisher: OUP Oxford (9 Nov 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199296685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199296682
  • Product Dimensions: 24.7 x 16.7 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,047 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

J. P. Mallory is Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Queen's University of Belfast. He holds a PhD in Indo-European Studies (1975) from the University of California. His books include In Search of the Indo-Europeans (1989) and, with Victor Mair, The Tarim Mummies: The Mystery of the First Westerners in Ancient China (2000). He is currently the editor of the Journal of Indo-European Studies and was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 1996.

D. Q. Adams is Professor of English at the University of Idaho. He holds a PhD in Linguistics (1972) from the University of Chicago (1972). His published work includes An Introduction to Tocharian Historical Morphology (1988), A Dictionary of Tocharian B (1999), and numerous articles on Indo-European and especially Tocharian topics.

J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams are the co-editors of the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997).

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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Packed full of information 4 Feb 2009
By Seán
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is a fascinating book but it is really aimed at the specialist with a background in linguistics and not at the general reader. I think Mallory's other book on the Indo-Europeans is much more accessible for anyone lacking a background in the subject. Why have I given it five stars then? I think that for the right person, for the reader who has a great interest in this subject and some background in linguistics, this is a perfect introduction. It is a monumental work of scholarship and they deserve the five stars but if you are a general reader with only a passing interest in these matters, this probably isn't the book for you.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic detail and useful introductory chapters 13 April 2010
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Absolutely packed with detailed reconstructions of PIE words arranged in topic-based chapters, this is a fantastic and comprehensive introduction to the subject. The introductory chapters offer valuable background on trends in the field, and the authors adopt a sober and unbiased style in navigating through the various theories that have shaped PIE linguistics. Much detail is paid to the isoglosses which support the various reconstructions, and ample word lists make the volume not only an introduction but a great reference tool.

Aimed primarily at the academic reader, there is also plenty of material that the casual linguist will find fascinating here too, and the style is accessible to all, although some knowledge of linguistics would help in the introductory chapters. All in all, a thoroughly recommended book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Superb 17 Dec 2012
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This is a quite invaluable introduction to a topic of huge importance but equally of ve great technical difficulty for those of us who, in the words of the distinguished Hellenist Martin West, are not 'black belts' in the subject, which to many seems the study of the 'unreadable in the pursuit of the unpronouncable' We are guided through the topic by language group, but also by analyses of themes in language - food, war, etc., which give the reader a true sense of how we Indo-Europeans spread our language and culture across Europe and much of Asia- and eventually virtually the entire American continent.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I have to disagree with Séan 15 Feb 2014
By Io
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I am a hobbyist, and this book makes perfect sense to me. I don't have any background in comparative linguistics, but I do have the benefits of a good grammar school education and personal interest. By training I'm a civil engineer and English is not my first language - nor the second, come to think of it. So anyone with what we could call a classical education will certainly enjoy this book.
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Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
74 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thorough survey of whole field of PIE studies 19 Nov 2006
By DE - Published on Amazon.com
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In 26 chapters, each with a helpful "Further Reading" section, Mallory and Adams offer a thorough survey of the current status of Proto-Indo-European (PIE) studies. In their introduction they acknowledge the example of Buck's A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages, asserting that they "have indeed aimed to do for Proto-Indo-European something of what Buck did for the individual Indo-European languages," and they succeed. Therefore, readers looking for detailed analyses of - for instance - the current state of knowledge about the PIE verb, the most complex part of the language, will find themselves disappointed. But then such readers already know which journals to read to follow current debates at the cutting edge, and the ample bibliographies here will also serve them well. Glottalic theory, to pick another favorite sticking point, likewise receives brief treatment, but with a balanced observation typical of the book's treatment of differing theories as a whole: "Fortunately, one can interchange the reconstructed forms between the traditional system and the variety of newly proposed systems in a relatively mechanical fashion. The traditional system is understood by all, and until the weight of scholarly opinion dismisses it for a single new system ... it remains the one most often cited." Nineteen chapters, the heart of the text, focus on the larger PIE world, with word lists, helpful summary charts and detailed discussion of semantic fields for clothing, religion, physical actions, relationships, food and drink, speech and sound, anatomy, and so on. The over 250 pages of appendices and indices, including a lexicon of some 2000 Proto-Indo-European roots (with both English-PIE and PIE-English sections), alone make this volume worth owning. As a challenging text for undergrad linguistics majors, or an excellent and readable survey for grad students in other fields, as well for as the general reader interested in linguistic and cultural reconstruction, this text will serve admirably.
61 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An interesting reference for the reconstruction of PIE, but not a satisfying introduction 12 July 2007
By Christopher Culver - Published on Amazon.com
When I heard that Oxford University Press would be publishing THE OXFORD INTRODUCTION TO PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN AND THE INDO-EUROPEAN WORLD, I was excited. I envisioned an update of Oswald Szemerenyi's old Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics that, because of the specific research interests of authors J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, would not only reflect contemporary developments in IE linguistics, but would seamlessly show what we can reconstruct for the culture of PIE speakers. Well, the book is something like that, but it turns out not to be much of a useful introduction to the field.

The book is over 700 pages long, but the introduction to Proto-Indo-European itself is quite small, less than a 100 pages really. It's certainly no substitute for a real handbook like Szemerenyi's, Beekes', Fortson's, or (my favourite) Lehmann's. The branches of Indo-European, its phonology and the basics of its morphology, and the debate over the relationship between the disparate languages that are first attested are set out. The authors nicely use Schleier's tale in its progressive versions to show how reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European have been consistently refined. While the view of Proto-Indo-European is generally the same as in introductions from the 1990s, the authors do reconstruct four laryngeals instead of the usual three, and prefer the transcription *h-subscript-x for an unknown laryngeal instead of *H.

The bulk of the book's content concerns the reconstruction of PIE lexicon, with chapters divided along such themes as "Food and Drink", "Speech and Sound", and "Material Culture". This portion is exciting, especially when the authors link reconstruction to archaeological evidence to make even more detailed ventures about the nature of PIE society. Nonetheless, the material can be tiresome to read straight through; it works best in pieces or in consultation for specific topics.

A final chapter discusses the debate over the IE homeland, where the authors remain very non-committal about the whole deal. There are two appendices. The first sets out basic sound correspondences between PIE and the major IE groups in tabular form. The second a PIE-English and English-PIE wordlist, nearly a hundred pages long. The bibliography and general index together are nearly 200 pages long. So, one can understand that the book contains quite a bit that might seem "fluff".

If you are a student of Indo-European linguistics with previous knowledge gained through one of the great handbooks like Lehmann's Theoretical Bases of Indo-European Linguistics, then the reconstruction of the lexicon in this work of Mallory and Adams is sure to offer some entertainment. However, this is the sort of the thing that is best consulted in a university library, and I found the book not worth obtaining for a home collection.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Big nerdy book for big nerds 2 Feb 2008
By Martin R. Crim - Published on Amazon.com
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It's hard to understand what audience a book like this is aimed toward. Yes, it's from a university press, so one assumes an academic audience of some kind. But the level of writing is much too light, fun, and enjoyable to be aimed at only people earning credit toward degrees or trying to make tenure. I'm doing neither of those actions but enjoyed the hell out of this book. But I wonder whether the authors were being mischievous or dismissive when they write something like, "In addition to standard indexes, the book also contains two word lists: a Proto-Indo-European English list and a list of the Proto-Indo-European vocabulary arranged by its English meaning (which should at least facilitate those who delight in such tasks as translating Hamlet into Klingon)." Eh, anyway, it's a fun book if you embrace your love of learning and shut away the voices of anti-intellectualism.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remember it is also an introduction to the Proto-Indo-European World 11 Sep 2011
By Jarrod Brown - Published on Amazon.com
Perhaps it is more a testament to my tastes than the book to say I sat down and over the course of a week or so read straight through it. I am not a PIE scholar, but as an amateur linguist and adept in the IE languages of German, English, and Sanskrit I was able to recognize, apply, and go beyond many of the etymological vignettes offered here. This is certainly not a book for the general reader, but linguists would find it very accessible as well as others, such as linguistic philosophers or anthropologists or archeologists, would find it offers the sort of entertaining introduction they might be looking for. Books such as these are not written for entertainment value, however, and as an academic resource is definitely provides a very thorough overview of the state of the discipline, major thoughts and theories, to date (2006).

While this book obviously deserves its place in the tomes of linguistics that most reviewers have acknowledged is well-deserved, it is important to note that this book professes that it attempted to not only survey the reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language but also the world. As such, much of the semantic analysis is doing just that--trying to tease our what small inferences about things as diverse as "animal sounds" to "social organization" and "material culture." Using what insights the reconstructed language can offer, restrained speculations are offered about the lifestyles, dwellings, activities, social organization and other mysteries of this important pre-historical group.

As another reviewer noted, minimum space is directed at ensuring readers understand the speculated linguistic complexities, morphological changes or syntax of PIE. It is very much an introductory level text (for those prepared), and as a second reviewer noted, the style is light and some of the asides made me positively chuckle aloud. And of course, anyone with an interest in etymology will find this text endless fun. For example, our word from "paradise" and "dough" apparently have a common PIE root word. This relationship is fascinating--the root word actually refers to an "enclosing wall." The root is *dhi'hs; it relates to "paradise" as "paradise" (pairi-da'za) literally meant "enclosure," being from Avestan (the ancient Persian language we know primarily from the Zoroastrian religious texts). It was borrowed and transformed by the Greeks into "garden" (parádeisos) and then borrowed into New English and thus we have "paradise" which we have given a meaning beyond just a garden but the relationship is clear (Garden of Eden, yada yada yada). "Dough" is descended from the same root, related to enclosures, perhaps through clay, as they may have been wattle and daub walls and/or earthen enclosures. The text is full of such gems, and if this is up your alley then no doubt this is a book you would find a valuable read and a valuable resource.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Survey of the PIE and IE Cultures 10 Dec 2009
By Abeer A. E. Alkhamees - Published on Amazon.com
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The first thing I want to say about this book is if you don't want a detailed discussion of Language as opposed to history then this book is not for you. However, since this was one of the things I was looking to study it was perfect for me.

The book covers the following main ideas:

(1) Concise introductions to the discovery and composition of the Indo-European language family.
(2) The way the proto-language has been reconstructed.
(3) Its most basic grammar
(4) The interrelationships between the different language groups
(5) The temporal position of the Indo-European languages
(6) Some of the difficulties in reconstructing a proto-language.
(7) Semantic field of the Proto-Indo-European lexicon.
(8) An examination of mythology and possible homelands of the Proto-Indo-Europeans.

For me the most interesting chapters were the last two, as they talked about the mythology and religion and how they can be reconstructed, and the possible homelands of the Proto-Indo Europeans. Its amazing what you can get from the words of a language!
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