The Languages of the World Paperback – 21 Mar 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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Now, although this all sounds really good (and it is), there are major weaknesses in the book. This comes primarily from the fact that the author has obviously got his information from countless different sources, as no one person can be an expert in all languages. However, it makes the book hard to trust. For instance, because I know a bit about Celtic languages, I looked them up here. The author refers to Scottish Gaelic and Irish Gaelic simply as "Gaelic", implying that they are the same language but simply called different things in Scotland and Ireland. This is simply not the case. Furthermore, he states that there 100,000 speakers of Irish in Northern Ireland. Again, I know that this is at best a misleading figure. Irish is dead in Northern Ireland as native language, and there are not even that many speakers in the Republic of Ireland. Presumably this number comes from figures relating to the number of people who have done Irish at school, or who otherwise "have a little Irish". All of this makes me question everything else I read in the book.
In short, this book is nice for getting an overview of many languages. I don't regret buying it, but I was disappointed. If you want a quick reference to the world's many languages, this is it. But only use it for browsing, not as a reference, and realize that it only mentions 600 languages--about 1/10th of the world's languages.
Mar sin, chòrd an leabhar seo rium math dha-rìribh. Ged a tha beàrnan an a thaobh Gàidhlig, bha mi air leth toilichte cànanan fhaicinn mar Bhreatonais, Bascais agus cànanan tùsanach bho cheann a tuath Amaireaga, Afraca agus Àisia. Mholainn gu pearsanta gun ceannaich sibh e! Tha aon leasachadh a mholainn ged-tà airson an leabhair, gum biodh e nas fheàrr nan robh a h-uile sìon air a sgrìobhadh anns an aibidil laideann a bharrachd air an sgriopt aca fhèin.
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