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Trask's Historical Linguistics [Kindle Edition]

Robert McColl Millar

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Book Description

This book is an introduction to historical linguistics - the study of language change over time. Written in an engaging style and illustrated with examples from a wide range of languages, the book covers the fundamental concepts of language change, methods for historical linguistics, linguistic reconstruction, sociolinguistic aspects of language change, language contact, the birth and death of languages, language and prehistory and the issue of very remote relations.
A minimal knowledge of linguistic concepts is needed and the book is suitable for students approaching the subject for the first time. The exercises will be particularly useful to teachers and students alike.

Product Description


 The strength of the book is its suitability for beginning students ... a highly recommendable introduction into historical linguistics - one, I might add, one has been looking out for a long time.

Werner Abraham, Studies in Language

About the Author

Robert McColl Millar works at the University of Aberdeen where he is head of the undergraduate Language and Linguistics programme.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 4081 KB
  • Print Length: 448 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Up to 4 simultaneous devices, per publisher limits
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (26 Nov. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #309,725 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Robert McColl Millar is Senior Lecturer in Linguistics at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. A native speaker of Scots from a Gaelic-speaking background, the Sociology of Language has always been part of his appreciation of the world. He has published widely on language contact, Scottish language and historical macrosociolinguistics. He is married to Sandra, an English teacher originally from Luxembourg. Their daughter, Mairi, was born in 2008.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very useful textbook indeed for undergraduates and autodidacts 6 Oct. 2007
By Christopher Culver - Published on
Larry Trask's textbook of historical linguistics was first published in 1996. In 2007, several years after the untimely death of that great scholar, this revised edition appeared. However, the old first edition is still widely sold, and it can still be used by university courses to great profit. It could even be used by the individual who wants to learn about the subject. My review is based on that first edition, but if I get ahold of the new edition, I will update it accordingly.

In the introduction to the book, Trask himself categorized it among the competition. He felt that it was more demanding than Jeffers and Lehiste (1979), comparable to Lehmann (1992) but with substantially different organization and coverage, and less demanding than Anttila (1988) or Hock (1986), and I agree. Trask's book does assume some previous experience with basic linguistics, but it is clearly directed towards university undergraduates. It covers the usual ground, with recent research like new phonological theories and ergativity taken into account.

One feature that distinguishes Trask's book is the use of Basque in many examples. Though its speakers are securely located in the very Western European country of Spain, Basque is unfortunately left out from books based mainly on Western European languages due to its odd character. Nonetheless, some knowledge of Basque could come in handy for historical linguists--it would have helped me better understand Heine and Kuteva's monograph on the European sprachbund, for example.

Trask's textbook is also unique among the crowd for the attention he gives to long-range hypotheses, fairly remarking that perhaps linguists have missed some connections because of over-specialization, but soundly debunking the work of charlatans like Merrit Ruhlen who think they can reconstruct some kind of "Proto-World". A nice touch is how Trask compares the public's readiness to accept coincidential similarities between, say, Hawaiian and Ancient Greek to the so-called "birthday paradox".

My major complaint with Trask's book is with the production. The typesetting is hard on the eyes, and the binding does not lie flat. All in all, if I had to pick my favourite textbook on the field, it would be Campbell's recent Historical Linguistics, 2nd Edition: An Introduction, where the author's excellent material is presented in a supremely readable manner. Nonetheless, instructors will have to decide themselves what book is best for their course, and Trask is certainly one worth evaluating.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent introduction to historical linguistics 20 Mar. 2012
By daeleatana - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book offers a great introduction to the field of historical linguistics, divided into several fields of study (phonology, morphology, syntax), all exemplified with data from different languages (especially English and Basque). Definitely a recommendation for a beginning linguist!
4.0 out of 5 stars Good revision 19 Jan. 2015
By Davis S. - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
McCool Miller does a good job expanding Trask's original textbook after the original author's death. The concepts are well explained in most cases, though there are a few times where things are left unclear. There are plenty examples, however, which usually makes the concepts understandable, if not super clear. The inclusion of Basque is also very interesting, since it's Trask's specialty and something you don't see often. There's also the inclusion of enough evidence from languages the reader will be more familiar about to make it more comprehensible.
4.0 out of 5 stars A nice resource 14 Jun. 2014
By Khalid Ahmad - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A nice and informative book. Still haven't finished the book, but I am so excited having it. I like it.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very cool! 30 Nov. 2012
By Cyntia Z. Stauffer - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The historical part was the best! I love it! The phonological section was a little bit harder to understand, unless you have previous phonology knowledge. Great book!
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