11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I agree with the other reviewers on the magnificence of the dead-tree first edition; no-one has yet reviewed the second edition, nor its Kindle version, so I'll focus on the Kindle second edition. The electronic editor got the first (literally, for once) thing wrong: the title. It has a hyphen rather than an apostrophe, which shows that the publisher did even less checking than usual for Kindle conversions. The carelessness isn't confined to the title, even in the free sample; Table 1.1, of basic Indo-European terms, is horribly dismembered. This may be unavoidable in some form-factors, but it could have worked on the iPad in landscape mode, if a human had bothered to check.
Some text, e.g. the accented name of one of the contributors, Dinh-Hoa Nguyen (whose accented form Amazon won't permit me to write), is rendered as graphics, not text, and can't be properly highlighted.
At the beginning of "Greek in its Geographic and Social Context" (location 24630-37) the Greek is comically mistranscribed: "KópivOos; 'Corinth', µívOn 'mint'". (In case Amazon's site filters that badly, the book's electronic editor really did transcribe theta as capital O, and eta as n.)
Professor Comrie's own chapter on Slavonic isn't safe to read either, e.g. "the shift ... to reduced vowels (jers) symbolised b, b" (17,876). This transcends mere ignorance, since Routledge's editor transcribed both jers, right next to each other, as the same character, the letter b. This of course renders much of the text unreliable and/or unreadable, e.g., "*mbxbbmb" (17,952), and a mystifying opposition between "nos" and "nos" in the next paragraph. Likewise the apparently systematic mistranscription of ' (ch) as c, e.g., 18,028 ("South Slavonic shc"), and 18,038 (amusingly: "c and c").
Some mistakes can't be excused even by ignorance and stupidity, for instance misspelling "Indo-European" (17,898), or completely omitting the word being glossed ("moka" for 'torment', earlier on the same page.)
The content in the second edition is wonderful, of course, and so far seems slightly improved from the first edition. The preface says that two languages, Javanese and Amharic, have been added. The existing chapters supposedly have all had their bibliographies updated; this is certainly true of the introduction, the only bibliography in the sample. For nineteen chapters this has been the only revision; the remaining chapters "have been revised, at times substantially." Most of the changes I've noticed have been minor but good, e.g., adding Nostratic to the discussion of macro-families in place of part of an overly-long list of possible families. A reference to Sumerian has been substituted in the brief subsection on Anatolian languages, and Carian added. The spelling of Bogazkoy has been changed, but Amazon would filter either the new or the old one, so I won't attempt to display the difference. I've noticed a few minor improvements in the chapters on Slavonic and Russian, but nothing sufficient to make up for the transcription errors.
There are some mild changes mandated by political correctness, e.g. BCE for BC, and a longer title for the section on Serbo-Croat, which also has an additional contributor. Contributor's affiliations are no longer after their names in the table of contents, but are now in a separate section. There's also an inessential substitution of Mexico for California in the first paragraph of the introduction, and slightly more apologizing in the preface for making judgements in order to live up to the book's title.
I had hoped to hold out for a proof-read iBooks edition using Unicode, but couldn't resist the temptation to have this marvelous book on my person at all times for the rest of my life. eBooks Dot Com does advertise an ePub version for the same price as the hardcover, though the sample seems to be for the PDF rather than the ePub. The Barnes and Noble Nook store lists the book as available for a price described as Free, $0.01, and NaN, but the copy I purchased only had five pages poorly scanned from the Bantu Languages section. I don't see much hope that the Kindle version's errors will be corrected, since it would require Routledge to hire someone educated, intelligent, and diligent to do the whole job over again. Merely correcting individual errata will not suffice.
The price of the Kindle edition is half that of the paperback, which doesn't even exist yet; it's a fifth the price of the hardback second edition. If you own the first edition and can't use the Kindle version, the paperback, due in February 2011, may be worth waiting for, for the bibliographies. And, of course, if don't own any edition, by all means buy one, though which to buy will depend on your budget and patience.