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    A Computer-Generated Dictionary of Proto-Algonquian (Paper / Canadian Ethnology Service, 125)
    by John Hewson
    Paperback (01 March, 1993)
    list price: $24.95 -- our price: $24.95
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    Isbn: 066014011X
    Sales Rank: 1997910
    Subjects:  1. Dictionaries    2. Foreign Language - Dictionaries / Phrase Books    3. Native American Languages    4. Proto-Algonquian language    5. Sociology    6. Sociology, Social Studies   


    Linguistic Reconstruction: An Introduction to Theory and Method (Oxford Textbooks in Linguistics)
    by Anthony Fox
    Paperback (01 March, 1995)
    list price: $45.00
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    Isbn: 0198700016
    Sales Rank: 955571
    Subjects:  1. Comparative linguistics    2. Historical linguistics    3. Language    4. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    5. Linguistics    6. Methodology    7. Reconstruction (Linguistics)    8. Typology (Linguistics)    9. Historical & comparative linguistics    10. Philosophy of language   

    A Dictionary of Linguistics & Phonetics (Language Library)
    by David Crystal
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 January, 2003)
    list price: $29.95 -- our price: $29.95
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    Reviews (2)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Nothing more than it says
    Lucid prose.Good examples.Decent range.This dictionary is nothing more than it advertises.It is not an encyclopedia and therefore goes into very little depth.But it does collate terms from a broad range of disciplines within linguistics and has helped a novice like me become familiar with them (if not an expert).It is expecially good at describing how the meanings of terms have changed over time, or how they are employed in different contexts or sub-fields of linguistics.

    4-0 out of 5 stars David Crystal gets right to the point
    the book is especially useful when preparing for an examination, because it gives that kind of information you are looking for, by getting right to the point. Very helpful are the cross-references which can serve asguidelines for further searches.David Crystal gives detailed and exactdefinitions of the most important terms of linguistics and phonetics, buthe neglects some of the key terminology of historical linguistics. Lookingfor definitions in this field of study, one should rather consult Hartmann/ Storck:Dictionary of Language and Linguistics. However, particularly inthe field of phonetics and phonology the book is an undefeatable source ofinformation. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0631226648
    Sales Rank: 296978
    Subjects:  1. Dictionaries    2. Language    3. Language Arts & Disciplines    4. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    5. Linguistics    6. Reference   


    The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth
    by Ruth S. Noel, J.R.R. Tolkien
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (May, 1980)
    list price: $16.00 -- our price: $10.88
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    Reviews (29)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Outdated, yes, but so?
    Yes this book is outdated due to the publication of Christopher Tolkien's mammoth History of Middle Earth. But when I purchased the book back in 1980, this was pretty much it, and it was fascinating. It spoke of Tolkien the linguist, introduced me to things I didn't know, and remember fondly sharing it with my parents, bubbling with excitement that I could share with them such a remarkable work. SO MANY LANGUAGES! They were mystified and amazed that this little work of fantasy I read actually had depth. For me, that was quite satisfying.

    5-0 out of 5 stars For the Elvish Fan, it's Great
    I don't think this book is that out-dated and personally, how can a language only designed for a book be "outdated"?! It can't be!! I think this is accurate, and personally, unless you want a full account (which doesn't exist) of Elvish, you'll be pleased. I was and I think we should give credit to the author because it gives an analytical point of view. I personally think that you can't trust Online Sources to give you any kind of accurate information unless it's authorized by Tolkien himself. I even say that for his book, it's not 100% true unless Tolkien writes a book with Elvish rules himself. So for the overall review it's good, it's really well written, and again, there's no "perfect" Elvish guide out there because nothing's ever 100% true.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Well, we knew someone would do it . . .
    This is a thorough-going vocabulary list and (morphological) analysis of Tolkien's LOTR languages. A fun resource for fans, but also rather fascinating for anybody into conlangs (constructed languages), and anybody researching LOTR purely as a pop culture phenomenon. I was a little disappointed in the presentation of the script (the page is a bit blurry), and would have loved a little more info on the process of creation. But still just a neat book! ... Read more

    Isbn: 0395291305
    Sales Rank: 162033
    Subjects:  1. (John Ronald Reuel),    2. 1892-1973    3. Dictionaries    4. Dictionaries - General    5. English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh    6. Fantasy    7. Fantasy - General    8. Fantasy literature, English    9. Fiction    10. Glossaries, etc    11. Imaginary languages    12. Language    13. Literature - Classics / Criticism    14. Middle Earth (Imaginary place)    15. Science Fiction & Fantasy    16. Tolkien, J. R. R    17. Fiction / Fantasy / General   


    An Introduction to Elvish, Other Tongues, Proper Names and Writing Systems of the Third Age of the Western Lands of Middle-Earth as Set Forth in the Published Writings of Professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
    by Jim Allan
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (January, 1978)
    list price: $26.95
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    Reviews (3)

    2-0 out of 5 stars Originally good, now outdated
    I don't really know how many stars to give this book. When it was originally published, it would have deserved four or five stars. Now, to be frank, it only deserves one star if you are interested in Tolkien's languages as such. Well, let's make it two stars, shall we?
    When this book appeared in the late seventies, it was about as good as it could be. The authors were competent and tried to analyze the entire available corpus. However, TONS of new material about Tolkien's languages would be published in the eighties and the nineties. Why, this book even predates the Silmarillion!
    The real revolution in Tolkienian linguistics occurred in 1987, about a decade after _Introduction_ was published. Then Christopher Tolkien published the all-important source document "The Etymologies", his late father's main listing of Elvish vocabulary, in the History of Middle-earth book _The Lost Road_. Almost every analysis of Tolkien's languages predating this publication was rendered instantly obsolete.However good and plausible the theories set out in _Introduction_ were when this book first appeared, almost everything has now been obsoleted. Even in the cases where the theories actually turned out to be correct, a present-day student would want to know that this info is indeed "Tolkien fact" and not post-Tolkien speculation. At least 80 % of what we now know about Tolkien's invented languages was quite unknown when _Introduction_ was written and published. I maintain a Tolkien-linguistic web-site, Ardalambion, attempting to present more up-to-date analyses. But even now, very much of Tolkien's linguistic material remains unpublished, and it will probably be decades before all the sources are available and any "definite" presentation of Tolkien's languages can be attempted. I, for one, would be very hesitant to publish anything on paper in the meantime.
    Just about the only part of _Introduction_ that has not been hopelessly outdated is the discussion of the two main writing systems, the Tengwar and the Cirth. Yet the info in this section is merely a rather more readable presentation of the very dense descriptions provided by Tolkien in Appendix E of the _Lord of the Rings_ itself. Even this section of _Introduction_ is no longer a "complete" discussion, since much material about yet another Elvish writing system -- the Sarati of Rúmil -- was published only this year (2002).

    4-0 out of 5 stars Non-Tolkien scholars or non-linguists need not apply!
    this text is very interesting.it covers the linguistics of the languages of tolkien very well, and is trade-paper published.i like it a lot.however, as the other reviewer pointed out, it predates silmarillion andneeds to be updated drastically.

    4-0 out of 5 stars has dated badly, but still the best available
    Not for the general reader, this is a collection of essays written by American linguists on the languages of Middle-earth and their history, as can be deuced from TLOTR. It's often degree-level stuff and will go right over the head of anyone without a keen interest in philology. Although it's truly astounding how much detail is uncovered and the standard of scholarship is always rigorous (even despite the odd nutter insisting that TLOTR is actual, literal history), it predates the Silmarillion and all the subsequent books so an update or a new work is desperately needed. Anyone? ... Read more

    Isbn: 0905220102
    Sales Rank: 167601
    Subjects:  1. Language and languages    2. Tolkien, J. R. R   

    Research Guide on Language Change (Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs)
    by Edgar C. Polome
    Hardcover (01 February, 1991)
    list price: $216.00 -- our price: $216.00
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    Isbn: 3110120461
    Sales Rank: 3408826
    Subjects:  1. Historical Linguistics    2. Language    3. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    4. Linguistic change    5. Linguistics    6. Reconstruction (Linguistics)    7. Historical & comparative linguistics   


    The Origins of English Words : A Discursive Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
    by Joseph Twadell Shipley
    Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 February, 2001)
    list price: $30.00 -- our price: $30.00
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    Reviews (4)

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good book, well-done, but a bit old
    This is a useful, and highly browseable book.It is a lot of fun, and the author enjoys tracing bawdy terms as well as all the other words in English.

    The only drawback to this book is that it is twenty years old, and the study of Indo-European has made enormous progress in those twenty years.As an example, Watkin's dictionary of Indo-European roots (SECOND edition) has virtually obsoleted his first edition -- which was about twenty years old.

    But it's enjoyable and useful!

    5-0 out of 5 stars A great reference piece
    I am a college junior, and I have found no book more helpful in my studies than this one. It is a great reference work that can be used for so many topics and in so many contexts. It is a necessity in my reference collection. The etymlogies of so many roots and words are throroughly explained, and done so with amazing clarity.

    Word Ninja

    5-0 out of 5 stars Erudite and entertaining
    Among the 5,000 books in my library, 50 or 60 of them being dictionaries, this is one of the most erudite and entertaining -- a rare combination. The author's knowledge of literature and language is quite remarkable. Apart from being an invaluable serious reference work it is also a wonderful tome for reading in bed (and it's not too heavy!) It is somewhat too complex, too "deep", to buy as a birthday present for an Auntie or Uncle with everyday interests, but it would make a wonderful present for a gifted young nephew or niece who loves to explore and learn about the wondrous riches of our linguistic and literary heritage ... Read more

    Isbn: 0801867843
    Sales Rank: 392235
    Subjects:  1. English Etymology    2. Etymology    3. Language    4. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    5. Linguistics    6. Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics   


    The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots (American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots)
    by Calvert Watkins
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (14 September, 2000)
    list price: $20.00 -- our price: $13.60
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    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Fun
    For word-lovers, this is endlessly enticing. Without a degree in comparative linguistics, it is difficult to ascertain the veridity of the findings presented here: and it is well-known that some "true" etymological connections are much harder to believe than other false ones. Witness, for instance, the Victorian delight in the cognacy of 'eveque' and 'bishop', and the non-cognacy of 'dies' and 'day'.

    I could readily believe that all of these derivations are accurate; but ultimately, for some of us, it matters little. I take delight in these tracings like I take delight in Horne Tooke's 'Diversions of Purley', Thass-Thienemann's 'The Subconscious Language', J. W. Donaldson's 'The New Cratylus', Robert Govett's 'Hebrew Derived from English', A. S. Diamond's 'The History and Origin of Language', Alexander Murray's 'History of the Indo-European Languages', etc., and in another field, Wentworth Thompson's 'On Growth and Form' -- what one sees is the reduction of myriad and diverse forms to fundamental principles. (The biological analogy, like the geological, was of course made much of in the 19th century. It was Darwin, for instance, who compared a silent letter like the 'b' in 'doubt' to a disused morphology like the human coccyx: both non-functional vestiges which reveal connections to previous forms). Seeing these patterns behind the development of the English lexicon is an enlightening experience, to say the least. And for those who want to explore this without recourse to more scholarly volumes such as those of Julius Pokorny or August Fick (the latter now obsolete), this slim volume is highly accessible.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Great book for language lovers
    It's a great book for fans of Indo-European, of course.The other reviewers have commented on that.I must comment on one aspect of the book which is disapointing: the binding.It is the most poorly-bound hardback I have seen recently.Parts of the binding are falling apart.Also, some of the ink transfered from one page to the opposite page.These kinds of flaws should never happen with modern bookbinding technologies.It is a shame that such a wonderful book was let down by the printers.Don't let this stop you from buying it, though.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Very Helpful Book on Aryan root words
    Watkins has created a fine book.This is not a dictionary as much as it is a word hoard. An easy to use list of Aryan root words and examples of how they appear in Latin, Hindi, German, Norse, Greek, Russian, English, etc. A great aid for anyone studying Western tongues.
    Wyatt Kaldenberg ... Read more

    Isbn: 0618082506
    Sales Rank: 127761
    Subjects:  1. Ancient Languages - General    2. Dictionaries    3. Dictionaries - General    4. English language    5. Etymology    6. Indo-European languages    7. Language and languages    8. Reference    9. Roots    10. Reference / Dictionaries   


    Experimental glottochronology: Basic methods and results (Pacific linguistics)
    by J. B. M Guy
    Paperback (1980)

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    Isbn: 0858832208

    Historical Linguistics & Lexicostatistics
    by Vitaly Shevoroshkin, Paul Sidwell
    Paperback (December, 1999)
    list price: $40.00 -- our price: $34.00
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    Isbn: 0957725116
    Sales Rank: 134927


    Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman: System and Philosophy of Sino-Tibetan Reconstruction
    by James Alan Matisoff, James Matisoff
    Hardcover (07 April, 2003)
    list price: $95.00 -- our price: $95.00
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    Isbn: 0520098439
    Sales Rank: 970141
    Subjects:  1. Asia - General    2. General    3. Language    4. Language Arts & Disciplines    5. Linguistics    6. Phonology, Comparative    7. Phonology, Historical    8. Proto-Tibeto-Burman language    9. Science    10. Sino-Tibetan    11. Sino-Tibetan languages    12. Tibeto-Burman    13. Tibeto-Burman languages   


    Evidence for Old English: Material and Theoretical Bases for Reconstruction (Edinburgh Studies in the English Language, 2)
    by Fran Colman
    Hardcover (01 March, 1992)
    list price: $72.00
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    Isbn: 0859762548
    Sales Rank: 2301281
    Subjects:  1. English language    2. General    3. Grammar    4. Language    5. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    6. Old And Middle English    7. Old English, ca. 450-1100   

    Reconstructing Proto-Afroasiatic (Proto-Afrasian): Vowels, Tone, Consonants, and Vocabulary (Voices from Asia)
    by Christopher Ehret
    Paperback (01 July, 1995)
    list price: $75.00 -- our price: $75.00
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    Isbn: 0520097998
    Sales Rank: 1214431
    Subjects:  1. Arabic    2. Foreign Language - Dictionaries / Phrase Books    3. Hamito-Semitic Languages    4. Language    5. Linguistics    6. Proto-Afroasiatic language    7. Reconstruction (Linguistics)   


    Lost Languages: The Enigma of the World's Undeciphered Scripts
    by AndrewRobinson
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Hardcover (25 April, 2002)
    list price: $34.95
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    Reviews (8)

    5-0 out of 5 stars The challenge of a Lifetime, in a very rich edition
    Deciphering ancient dead languages is one of the most fascinating challenges a man/woman can face in his/her lifetime, and the moreobstacles faced by the challenger the better. In this regard, the Frenchman mathematician Jean-François Champollion, the decipherer of the Egyptian hieroglyphs in the Rosetta Stone (the name Rosetta derives from the place Rashid in the North of Africa), the most well known block of stone in the world. Alongside with him is the British amateur archeologist and linguist Michael Ventris, who in 1953 broke the code of the so-called Minoan Linear B tablets.COntrary with what happened in the case of the Rosetta Stone, where alongside with the text to be deciphered (in demotic Egyptian and in hieroglyphics), there was not a base text (in Greek) to be confuted with. It is so not surprising that the great majority of decipherers attained its goas before reaching 30 years of age.

    The feats of these two men, who depended upon the previous work of many others who trod the same paths before them, is detailed narrated in this very good book, richly illustrated with many ellucidative diagrams, graphs, drawings and pictures of alphabets, sillabarys and hieroglyphs, Egyptian inclusive. Andrew Robinson, the author of this excelent book, is in this regard extremely well equiped to present difficult subjects in a very easy manner to the lay reader like myself, who is only looking for the big picture and do not care about the multitude of details present in this type of work. The chapter on the deciphering of the Maya script by a Russian scholar is also a very informative one, in fact overflowing the reader with a lot of pertinent graphic information.

    The scripts still waiting to be broken (Linear A among others and the scripts of the Easter isle) are very fascinating chapters of the book and one almost feels the urge to quit everything immediately and jump right away into the arena of deciphering dead languages.
    In my opinion, this book is as good as it could be on the important subject of the decoding of the dead languages of humanity.

    This edition of the book is indeed a very rich one and this is the kind of book one feels pretty much comfortable to give as a gift to friends and relatives. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

    5-0 out of 5 stars Lost and Found Languages
    If I could have any one thing come to pass (within reason) in linguistics, it would be a decipherment of the Indus Valley script. But no matter what your personal obsession - Rongorongo, perhaps, or Linear "A", or maybe just a basic interest in how linguists try (and sometimes succeed) to decipher the unknown writings of the world - there is likely to be much in "Lost Languages" that will interest and entertain you. It is primarily an introduction to the subject for the general reader, although it seems likely that even a specialist will not necessarily be familiar with all the languages included here.

    Robinson begins with the story of three formerly undeciphered scripts that have now been (more or less) successfully deciphered: Egyptian hieroglyphs, Linear B, and (to a somewhat lesser extent) Mayan glyphs. This sets the stage for short chapters on important but so-far undeciphered scripts: Meroitic, Etruscan, Linear A, Proto-Elamite, Rongorongo, Zapotec, Isthmian (Mexico), Indus Valley, and the Phaistos Disc. Robinson shows how the principles of decipherment have been applied to these scripts, explains why they remain largely undeciphered at present, and offers a reasoned estimate of their chances for successful decipherment in the future.

    As an introduction to the field of decipherment this is, I think, a very successful book. Naturally it lacks the details to be found in more specialized studies, but Robinson clearly articulates the basic principles of decipherment and their application to these very interesting scripts. Examples are given for the reader to work out, and other examples show how would-be decipherers, both famous and not-so-famous, have sometimes gone wrong. One could only wish for the inclusion of more scripts (why not cunieform?) and more in-depth coverage, but as an introduction, "Lost Languages" fulfills its purpose admirably. Maybe someone who reads this book will "catch the bug," go on to more advanced study, and - who knows? - someday find the key to one of these enigmatic writings.

    5-0 out of 5 stars You don't need to be a linguist to find this fascinating!
    I teach Logic and the thing that makes this book absolutely fascinating is the way that Robinson explains the process of deciphering lost languages.We've all heard the story of the Rosetta Stone, but the discovery of the stone only made it *possible* to read Ancient Egyptian inscriptions -- it took an enormous amount of intelligence to sort out the basics of the writing system.Robinson does a wonderful job of explaining how the evidence is actually used to unlock these scripts.He also shows how mysterious writings are fertile ground for various "crackpot theories" (though I like the idea that the Phaistos Disk is a gameboard). ... Read more

    Isbn: 0071357432
    Sales Rank: 303645
    Subjects:  1. Alphabet    2. Anthropology - General    3. Extinct languages    4. Historical Linguistics    5. History    6. History: World    7. Language    8. Language Arts & Disciplines    9. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    10. Linguistics    11. Paleography    12. Writing    13. Social Science / Anthropology / General   

    Breaking the Maya Code
    by Michael D. Coe
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 October, 1999)
    list price: $18.95 -- our price: $12.89
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    Reviews (23)

    5-0 out of 5 stars A fascinating telling of a centuries long detective story
    When I first saw Mayan characters I couldn't even formulate a clue on how to look at them.I could pick out some faces, dots, and a vast array of images I could not make anything of.This book takes us on the long trail of decipherment that began centuries ago, but the breakthrough came in 1952 in the Soviet Union.The thirty year old Yuri Knorosov took up the research because it was a safe topic in the USSR and the story of what he accomplished is stunning.

    This fascinating book begins with the story of how ancient scripts have been decoded throughout history.Cuneiform, Egyptian Hieroglyphs, and even Chinese and Japanese have all presented challenges that have been solved.Several scripts remain unreadable.Michael D. Coe shows us how the early discoverers of the Maya worked on trying to read the characters they saw on the monuments and buildings the dug out the jungles of Central America.Their guesses and surmises about the writing actually held up decipherment because the fundamentally misunderstood how the script worked.

    The author also shows us how to read the writing.It is a fascinating process.Of course, what we read is still Mayan, but he provides translations for us.It is also interesting to note how the same character varies in appearance in different places and at different times.After a bit of practice, you can pick up the knack of seeing the similarities and recognizing what you are seeing.

    There are many helpful photos, drawings, and tables as well as an index.

    Simply cool.

    5-0 out of 5 stars The story of an incredible intellectual quest
    It took a long time before Maya script could be read in a coherent way. Up to the 1950s, no one was able to decipher the inscriptions chiselled into the Maya temples and palaces in the jungles of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and Belize. Although many attempts at decipherment had been undertaken in the 19th and early 20th century by a number of - in some cases rather quixotic - Maya enthusiasts, they all lacked the linguistic training and the touch of genius that might have led them to a breakthrough. Thus, by the middle of the 20th century the generally accepted view among Maya scholars was that those glyphs represented neither words nor syntactical constructions but rather that they were to be interpreted as purely mythological allusions. The undisputed leader of this school of thought was Eric Thompson, Maya expert at Washington's Carnegie Institution.

    Opposing views of the Thompson school had occasionally been heard before, but only in 1952 did there arise an opponent formidable enough to effectively challenge the established opinion on the Maya glyphs. That year, Yuri V. Knorosov, a researcher at then Leningrad's Institute of Ethnology published his view that the Maya script was logographic, meaning that it consisted of a. logograms that express the meaning of words and b. phonetic-syllable signs (comparable to modern Japanese). Although the ensuing dispute between followers of Thompson and supporters of Knorosov continued for many years, today it is the Knorosov apporach that is being recognized as having given the decisive impetus that led to the decipherment of most Maya glyphs. Over the years, Knorosov's method was refined by generation after generation of gifted Maya scholars, among them Michael Coe, the author of this book and now professor emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University. Having favoured the Knorosov approach from the outset, Mr Coe understandably is critical of the Thompson school, but his verdict on his former rival is always fair, never degrading.

    The story of expert dispute over the meaning of the glyphs, however, takes up only about half of the book - after all, factional fighting is a frequently observed phenomenon in all fields of academia. The other half is dedicated to the history of discoveries that took place once the Knorosov approach had been accepted as the signpost to follow. Here, Mr Coe excels in depicting the various people who got hooked on the Maya glyphs and who dedicated their working life to the continuing decipherment of the Maya script. All in all, "Breaking the Maya Code" proved to be a delightful read and, this being the mark of every good book, it made me want to read more on the subject. I am now in the mood to pick up a book on how to read Maya glyphs or to have a closer look at one of the four codices, the surviving Maya books. Highly recommended!

    3-0 out of 5 stars Literature or Research?
    If you are new on the Maya path, you will find this book very interesting, easy to read and capturing.But, if you are a mayanist aficionado, better try another book, like Montgomery's, about Mayan writing, of David Drew's account of it.Coe, even when he made important apportations to mayan studies, is one of that scholars (like Thompson, his nemesis) that put the personal view on his research.So, this account is full of biased information and emotional catarsis.However, it is very readable, keeping you reading until the end, like a good mistery or detective story.Enjoy the reading, but if you want something serious, he is not the guy. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0500281335
    Sales Rank: 70381
    Subjects:  1. Archaeology    2. Archaeology / Anthropology    3. Central America    4. Ethnic Studies - Native American Studies    5. History    6. Linguistics    7. Mayan languages    8. Mexico    9. Native American Anthropology    10. Paleography    11. Social Science    12. Sociology    13. Writing   


    The Story of Decipherment: From Egyptian Hieroglyphs to Maya Script
    by Maurice Pope
    Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 June, 1999)
    list price: $19.95 -- our price: $13.57
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    Reviews (1)

    4-0 out of 5 stars A very nice overview of the decipherement of languages
    How do people decipher old scripts? As a person with very badly legible handwriting I have always been interested in how scripts are deciphered. For the case of my handwriting I learned about how it is done from people who told me. Assume a letter has to be deciphered. First of all, thelanguage I use is known to people who try to read the letter. I was toldpeople usually start with words they can read or words which are obvious.From those, they seem to get an understanding of how characters arewritten. The knowledge of these characters then helps them to decipherother words and to learn more and more characters. Quite obviously,deciphering Egyptian or Maya script is somewhat different from this. Apartfrom the fact, that my hand writing is not nearly as beautiful as, say, oldMaya script, there seems to be the language problem: The person who triesto decipher Maya script does not speak the language of the Mayas.

    Or so Ithought. However, after reading this book I was amazed about how similarthe decipherment of my handwriting and of, say, Maya script is. As it turnsout, the language of the script has to be known! That came as a surprise tome when I started to read the book. How would anybody know the language ofancient Egypt? As it turns out, in many cases, old languages survived orare the progenitors of languages known today. In the case of Egyptian,there is a language called Coptic which is still spoken today and which isvery close to ancient Egyptian. In addition, the decipherment is very oftenmade much easier by documents which contain the same text in more than onelanguage. Pope's book explains in very nice details how the knowledge ofCoptic and the existence of the so-called Rosetta Stone made thedecipherement of Egyptian hieroglyphs possible. In a similar fashion, hetalks about many other old scripts like Linear B, Cuneiform etc.

    In myopinion, the book has a few small flaws, though. First of all, the firstchapter which deals with older ideas of what Egyptian hieroglyphs mightmean is incredibly boring because it is so repetitive. In addition, Popementions many and in fact too many contributors of the decipherement of anyof the language so that the reader (or at least me) is left somewhatconfused about who did what etc. But these flaws are really only minor andif I could I'd give this book 4 1/2 stars out of 5. ... Read more

    Isbn: 050028105X
    Sales Rank: 516808
    Subjects:  1. Alphabet    2. Archaeology    3. Archaeology / Anthropology    4. Extinct languages    5. History    6. History and criticism    7. Inscriptions    8. Social Science    9. Sociology    10. Translating & Interpreting    11. Writing    12. Archaeological methodology & techniques    13. Archaeological theory    14. Palaeography (history of writing)   


    The Decipherment of Linear B (Canto)
    by John Chadwick
    Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (13 September, 1990)
    list price: $16.99 -- our price: $11.55
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    Reviews (10)

    5-0 out of 5 stars Good summary of the decipherment story
    I really liked this book as an outline of the method used to decipher the Linear B script found at Crete and a few locations on mainland Greece.The author is very well qualified to comment on the decipherment given that he was a key collaborator with Michael Ventris.I found the level of detail to be just right to show the outstanding scholarship achieved by Ventris who was a professional architect, not a Greek Classics college professor; but not so much detail as to detract from the readability of the story.

    5-0 out of 5 stars AEurekamoment
    Michael Ventris was an architect whose knack for languages, both oral training and excellent visual memory, provided the foundation for his avocation, decoding the Cretan script.Archaeology of the pre-hellinic age supplied the material.Among many scholars in Athens in the 1890's to see the Schliemann treasures was Arthur Evans.Based on evidence of the wealth of the civilization, Evans was led to search for prehistoric writing.In excavation at Knossos, Crete he found that the civilization was in his estimation incomparably older than that of Greece.

    Early Greek was composed of Greek dialects.Evans found Minoan writing.It is now possible to see that Linear B resulted from adapting the Minoan script to Greek writing.Classical Cypriot writing was seemingly related to Linear B; but the signs can stand for different things and it was too readily assumed that Linear B followed the spelling conventions of Cypriot.Evans concluded that the Minoan language was totally different from that of Mycenaen Greek.The influence of Evans was immense.

    Ventris's proof that the people of Knossos spoke Greek was electrifying.Decipherment requires adequate material. From 1950-1952 Ventris was fixated by the idea of Etruscan as the language of Linear B.The code is designed to fool the investigator in cryptography.The script derived from ancient material is only baffling by accident.The Minoan script was a case of an unknown script in an unknown language.In theory any code can be broken.The idea is to grasp the underlying pattern.Classical Greek in general is the dialect of Attica.Ventris pursued the matter by comparing similar signs and coming to the realization variances represented word endings of an inflected language.He saw some Greek solutions for names and eventually came to see a Greek solution was inevitable.Initially he did not understand how archaic the language was that he was dealing with in Linear B.

    Cryptography is a science of deduction and controlled experiment.After Ventris did a radio broadcast and mentioned his supposition that the language of Linear B was Greek, the author arranged to be put into touch with Ventris.He, a specialist in Greek dialects, became convinced after a few days that the identifictions were sound.Ventris indicated he did need the assistance of a philologist.Chadwick and Ventris formed a partnership that lasted for four years.The first paper was a joint work, Ventris felt it would have more chance of being published that way, and was termed "Evidence for Greek Dialect in the Mycenaen Archive."In other words, claims of decoding the text were avoided purposely.Linear B is no Domesday Book.It does not yield riches of detail of Mycenaen life.

    4-0 out of 5 stars Good book
    I enjoyed this book very much.I recommend this book as well as the other book on the decipherment of linear b.It's an amazing story. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0521398304
    Sales Rank: 31736
    Subjects:  1. Ancient Languages - Classical Greek    2. Bible - Language Studies    3. Classical Archaeology    4. General    5. History    6. History: World    7. Inscriptions, Linear B    8. Paleography    9. Reference    10. Religion - Biblical Studies - Language    11. Ventris, Michael    12. Ancient (Classical) Greek    13. Ancient Greece    14. Classical Greek & Roman archaeology    15. Language & Linguistics    16. Language Arts & Disciplines / General   


    The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone: Key to Ancient Egypt
    by James Cross Giblin
    Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (01 February, 1993)
    list price: $7.99 -- our price: $7.99
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    Reviews (3)

    3-0 out of 5 stars The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone
    The Rosetta Stone, found in Egypt in 1799 by the French but later turned over to the British, contains text written in three alphabets: Greek, Egyptian, and hieroglyphics.Decoding the hieroglyphics on the stone remained a puzzle to many experts for years.This book provides a biography of the stone, describing the contributions made by many linguists that eventually led to deciphering the mysterious symbols.

    Black and white photographs of the stone as well as portrait illustrations of the men who helped decode the symbols break up the text.The book provides a very informative history of the writing system of ancient Egypt.

    5-0 out of 5 stars An ideal introduction to how heiroglyphics were decoded.
    "The Riddle of the Rosetta Stone" is accessible to our 9-year-old would-be Egyptologist with just a bit of vocabulary help from adults, yet is not the least insulting to her parents. This small book, with fewer than 100 pages, largeish type, and many clear illustrations, gives a readable and straightforward account of how the Rosetta stone allowed scholars to understand and even find the pronunciation of a language long after its last speaker was long dead. We learn, for example, that to the ancients, she was "Cleopadra" and not "Cleopatra".

    There is enough detail to help understand the process, and to convince the reader that the reconstructions are sound. The stone and its translation is put into its historical context, both ancient and modern.

    This is an admirable, brief, and inexpensive introduction to the subject, and is well-written. The professional will look elsewhere, and the complete greek, demotic, and heiroglyphic texts are available in the inexpensive Dover reprint of E.A. Wallis Budge's "The Rosetta Stone", which I review separately.

    3-0 out of 5 stars This is a young persons book, written with not much detail
    A nice little book, easy to read and worth the price paid for it. I would have liked to see more detail, perhaps in the next book I buy.I gave it three stars as it is a light report of the Rosetta Stone. I read the wholebook in about 1/2 hour.It does have other sources from which to selectmore detailed books. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0064461378
    Sales Rank: 194092
    Subjects:  1. Children's 9-12    2. Children: Grades 4-6    3. Egyptian language    4. General    5. Hieroglyphics    6. Juvenile literature    7. Writing, Hieroglyphic   


    Indo-European and the Indo-Europeans: A Reconstruction and Historical Analysis of a Proto-Language and a Proto-Culture : The Text (Trends I)
    by Thomas V. Gamkrelidze, Vjaceslav V. Ivanov, Werner Winter
    Hardcover (01 December, 1995)
    list price: $366.70 -- our price: $366.70
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    Isbn: 3110096463
    Sales Rank: 3182268
    Subjects:  1. Grammar    2. Historical Linguistics    3. Indo-Europeans    4. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    5. Proto-Indo-European language    6. Grammar, syntax, linguistic structure    7. Indo-European Languages    8. Sociolinguistics   


    The Nostratic Macrofamily and Linguistic Palaeontology
    by Aharon Dolgopolsky, A. DOLGOPOLSKII, Colin Renfrew, Nicki Milner
    Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars
    Paperback (15 April, 2000)
    list price: $36.00 -- our price: $34.03
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    Reviews (1)

    3-0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but Heavy on the Word Lists
    Colin Renfrew's introduction (about 14 pages) provides a fine short exposition of the Nostratic hypothesis.Aharon Dolgopolsky then lists etymologies of 124 words believed to have been in the original Nostratic language derived from desendants found in daughter languages.From these words he deduces the location of the Nostratic speakers' homeland, and their cultural characteristics.From the technology he then deduces the approximate date (e.g. Neolithic vs. Mesolithic vs. Paleolithic).He settles on the late Paleolithic as the epoch of Nostratic's origin.The book proper consists mostly of the 124 words and their etymologies, interspersed with interpretations concerning culture, technology, etc.The "index" merely lists the words. The etymologies are only of interest to professionals, but the deductions from them are interesting, as is Renfrew's concise presentation of the Nostratic hypothesis.

    It should be noted that this book served as the focus of a Nostratic Symposium in Cambridge England during July of 1998 at The MacDonald Institute for Archeological Research .The papers presented at the symposium have been published as "Nostratic: Examining a Linguistic Macrofamily" edited by Colin Renfrew and Daniel Nettle.These papers shed a great deal of light (as well as some heat) on Dolgoposky's volume, in addition to discussing some criticisms and defenses of the Nostratic Hypothesis.The version of the book published for the symposium participants runs over 400 pages.

    In short, the casual reader will probably find the word lists heavy going, with Renfrew's summarization of Nostratic and Dolgoposky's deductions/speculations a little to skimpy for the price.Specialists will want both this book and the Renfrew/Nettle book.Anyone who is interested enough in the Nostratic Hypothesis to buy this book should seriously consider buying the Renfrew/Nettle book as well. ... Read more

    Isbn: 0951942077
    Sales Rank: 736536
    Subjects:  1. Comparative linguistics    2. Language    3. Language Arts / Linguistics / Literacy    4. Linguistic paleontology    5. Linguistics    6. Nostratic hypothesis    7. Proto-Indo-European language    8. Dialectology   


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