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This small collection of linguistic references - more or less what you'd get if my bookshelves would fall on your head - shows a decided structuralist bias - you won't find any references to generative, functional or parametric works on this page. The south-east Asian bias will also be apparent... In places the formatting is a bit off, but I don't think that it will detract from its usefulness.
Comments are emphasized, presented with a bullet and indented... And mind, all comments are highly subjective, unsubstantiated and in some cases written years after I've read the work in question. With the exception of Swadesh, everybody on this list should be regared as a bona-fide scholar, a competent linguist and a careful researcher. Besides, these comments are aimed at someone seeking books to aid in developing a constructed language, and not at a professional linguist.
Table of Contents
Allwood, Jens, Lars-Gunnar Andersson and Östen Dahl.1993 (1977). Logic in Linguistics. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Witty and readable, this is the best general introduction to logic I've ever read - however, I'm still of the opinion that language has little to do with logic...
Bàrtoli, Matteo. 1945. Saggi di linguistica spaziale. Torino: Vicenze Bona.
Blake, Barry J. 1994. Case. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Far from being the definitive account of the subject of Case, this actually reads like a quick hack. Sorry, I can't be more positive, I really had great hopes this would be the work on case to end all others, and it isn't. The information is no doubt correct, and taken from a great number of languages. As they say on usenet, YMMV.
Bloomfield, Leonard. 1984 (1933). Language. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
- Even though it is old, it's good. It's well written by a great linguist. His insights are thought-provoking. A classic, one of the essentials for every conlangers's shelves.
Bopp, F. 1816. Über das Conjugationsystem der Sanskritsprache in Vergleichung mit jenem der griechischen, lateinischen, persischen, und germanischen Sprache. Frankfurt.
- A seminal work. If you can find a copy, scan it! Ocr it! Put it on the web!
Bybee, Joan. 1985. Morphology: A study of the relation between meaning and form, Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Corporation.
- One of the best books on grammaticalizion I've ever read.
Bynon, Theodora. 1977, 1990. Historical Linguistics. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- My personal favourite for an introduction to Historical Linguistics. I admit I haven't read the more recent introductions, like the one by Lehmann, only skimmed through them. One problem with this book (and most other introductions to Historical Linguistics) is that they concentrate upon Indo-European, which means that interesting topics like tonogenesis seldom receive any attention.
Chafe, Wallace L. 1970. Meaning and the Structure of Language. UCP.
Comrie, Bernard. 1976. Aspect. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- This should be the starting point for anyone who wants to learn about aspect. (or tense).
Comrie, Bernard. 1989 (1981). Language Universals and Linguistic Typology. second edition. Oxford: Basil Blackwell ltd.
- A great overview of the world's languages and their variation.
Comrie, Bernard. 1985. Tense. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- This is for tense what Comrie (1976) is for aspect.
Corbett, Greville.1991. Gender. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- One of those books you simply need when writing a chapter about gender in your conlang. Wide-ranging, well-written and stimulating.
Croft, William. 1990. Typology and Universals. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Good, but not great. If you have to choose between Comrie (1989) and this work, get Comrie. Croft (1990) is more theoretical, but also less focussed. Ed Heil has a resources page based on this book.
Cruse, D.A. 1986, 1991. Lexical Semantics. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- I don't believe in Logic in Languages, and neither do I believe in Logic in Semantics. One of the books I could do without. (Though no doubt a scholarly work of a scholar better than I am - it's just not a field that interests me.(
Crystal, David. 1991. A dictionary of linguistics and phonetics. Oxford, Basil Blackwell.
- Useful, though I often hear that its definitions are slightly to very off. To be used carefully.
De Saussure, Ferdinand. 1955. Cours de Linguistique Générale, cinquième édition. Paris: Payot.
- A classic, and worth learning French for.
Dixon, R.M.W. 1994. Ergativity, Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 69, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- A classic, and worth learning English for...
Dixon, R.M.W. 1997. The rise and fall of languages. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Nobody who hasn't read this can ever be taken seriously as a linguist. This is simply a must read for everyone who wants to have an opinion about language.
Dürr, Michael and Peter Schlobinski. 1990. Einführung in die deskriptive Linguistik. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
- Very, very useful if all you want is some grip on the process of describing a language the way field linguists do. Which is the most useful way there is, given the number of undescribed languages still in existince.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1966. "Some universals of grammar, with particular reference to the order of meaningful elements". In J. Greenberg (ed.), Universals of Language, second edition. MIT press.
- A more recent introduction to the field is likely to be far more useful. Besides, Professor Adelaar seriously doubts Greenbergs work on South-American languages and Professor Cook seriously doubts his work on African languages... See also Matisoff (1990) on megalocomparison.
Harris, Alice C. and Lyle Campbell. 1995. Historical syntax in cross-linguistic perspective. Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 74. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Not as clearly written as I would have liked, but interesting, very interesting nonetheless.
Hopper, Paul J. and Elizabeth Closs Traugott. 1993. Grammaticalization . Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- Again, if linguists wouldn't for the greater part be rotten authors, this could have been great. All the information is there, well ordered, well presented. But the authors' prose-style makes me yawn when I'm typing this text.
Jespersen, Otto. 1923. Language, its nature, development and origin . London: George Allen & Unwin.
- One of those books you simply need.
Jespersen, Otto. 1924. The Philosophy of Grammar. London: George Allen & Unwin.
- Another one of those books you simply need.
Kempson, Ruth M.1977, 1989. Semantic Theory. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- See Lexical Semantics. It's not that I dislike semantics or anything, it's just that I cannot wrap my mind around the idea that the meaning of a phrase has much to do with it's truth-value.
Lass, Roger.1984, 1989. Phonology: an introduction to basic concepts. Cambridge Textbooks in Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- A good, basic introduction with some stimulating discussion of not-so-basic developments. A book I get back to again and again.
Lyons, John. 1989 (1968). Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- As good as Bloomfield (1933), even though it seems to be rather more dated.
Manders W.J.A. 1947. Vijf Kunsttalen. Vergelijkend onderzoek naar de waarde van het volapük, esperanto, ido, occidental en novial. Purmerend: J. Muusses.
- A spirited discussion of five auxiliary languages - as spirited as it is in favour of Esperanto.
Matthews, Peter. 1991. Morphology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- The book you need on your desk when you write the chapter on morphology in your grammar.
Nerbonne, John (ed.). 1998. Linguistic Databases. Stanford, CSLI Publications.
Palmer, F.R. 1986. Mood and Modality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- This is a great book - full of ideas and inspiration. Be sure to read it before you occupy yourself with your verbal system.
Renfrew, Colin. 1998 (1987). Archaeology & Language. London: Pimlico.
- A controversial account of the origins of the Indo-European languages. Does very well as a source of inspiration for accounts of the origin of a conlang in a conculture. The fact is, when reading this book, it seems like Lord Kildare is talking about a conculture.
Schegel, F. 1801. Über die Sprache und Weisheit der Indier, Heidelberg.
- As important as Bopp (1816), and as good a read. Refreshes the mind and has taught me the old wisdom from Ecclesiastes - there's nothing new under the sun.
Shopen, Timothy (ed.). 1990 (1985). Language typology and syntactic description. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- This book is (or was) used as a textbook in the Descriptive Linguistics course of Leyden University - it's a bit hackish, none too careful, but it offers a lot of insight in the possibilities of language to someone who's preparing a description.
Swadesh, Morris. 1955. "Towards Greater Accuracy in Lexicostatistic Dating" International Journal of American Linguistics, XXI, p. 121.
- Pure nonsense - but it's enormous fun to try and swadesh several conlangs together!
Weinreich, Uriel. 1974. Languages in Contact: Findings and Problems. The Hague: Mouton.
- Unreadable - and I'd guess it would be difficult to find too. Nevertheless, it offers a lot of information for the persevering conlanger.
Wierzbicka, Anna. 1988. The semantics of grammar Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- Extremely interesting! Full of ideas about the precise meanings of words and grammatical constructions. She actually tries to develop a meta-language that can be used to compare the meaning of grammatical features across languages.
Ladefoged, Peteri. 1971. Preliminaries to Linguistic Phonetics, Chicago
- A very useful introduction to the all the sounds of the languages of the world, and a goodish bit of theory behind it. Mind you, he has recently retracted his analysis of breathy sounds in favour of the view they are voiced aspirated stops after all.
Robins, R.H. 1990. A short history of linguistics. Harlow: Longman Group.
Lepschy, Guilio (ed.). 1994. History of Linguistics: classical and medieval linguistics, volume II..Harlow: Longman Group.
Burrow T. 1973 (orig. 1955). The Sanskrit Language. The Great Languages, Faber and Faber, London
- An elderly work, superseded in some respects by Masica's Indo-Aryan languages. Deals, like most works on Sanskrit almost exclusively with morphology.
Egerod, Søren , Sino-Tibetan, Languages of the World, Comrie, Bernard (ed), Cambridge University Press.
Foley, William. 1986. The Papuan Languages of New Guinea Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Hahn, M. 1973. Lehrgang der Klassischen Tibetische Schriftsprache. Hamburg.
Hewson, John and Vit Bubenik. 1997. Tense and Aspect in Indo-European Languages: Theory, Typology, Diachrony. Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 145. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
- There are some scholars who think this a cranky, crackpot work full of rehashed, old, discarded and discredited theories - it's very interesting nonetheless.
Hodgson, Brian Houghton. 1857. ’Comparative vocabulary of the several languages (dialects) of the celebrated people called Kirântis, now occupying the eastern-most province of the Kingdom of Nepal, or the basin of the river Árun, which province is named after them Kirânt’. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal 26, 5: 351-372.<-p>Hodgson, Brian Houghton. 1858. ‘Comparative vocabulary of the languages of the broken Tribes of Népál’, Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, 27, 393-456.
Hodgson, Brian Houghton. 1880. Miscellaneous Essays relating to Indian Subjects I and II: London, Trübner: 161-319. (Herdruk van Hodgson 1857)
Loprieno, Antonio. 1995. Ancient Egyptian: a linguistic introduction . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- This is great. A thorough introduction in ancient Egyptian, which is actually written by someone with a real knowledge of linguistics.
Norman, Jerry. 1988. Chinese. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
- This could very well serve as a model of a study of the conlangs in a conculture. Carefully, lively and engagingly written.
Ramsey, 1987. The Languages of China. Princeton, Princeton University Press.
Matisoff, James. 1978. Variational Semantics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. Philadelphia: ISHI
- Like everything Jim Matisoff writes, this is so witty that it reads better than an Dorothy L. Sayers novel - and it's full of great ideas, like the concept of allofams, families of related words/concepts, that could be extremely useful to a conlanger.
Shibatanai, Masayoshi. 1996 (1990). The languages of Japan. Cambridge Language Surveys. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Allan, N.J. 1975. Sketch of Thulung grammar. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University China-Japan Program.
Bacot, Jaques. 1946/49: 1981. Grammaire du Tibétain Littéraire: tome I et II: index Morphologique (langue littéraire et langue parlée). Paris: Librairie d'Amérique en d'Orient, 11, rue Saint-Sulpice.
Berg, Rene van den. 1989. A Grammar of the Muna Language. Leyden. (PhD. dissertation)
- Muna is an Austronesian language spoken on the Muna island in Indonesia.
Driem, George van. 1987. A Grammar of Limbu. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
- Very, very dry. But in his discussion of aspectual markers, the author presents a great many ideas that could be very useful for a conlang.
Driem, George van. 1993. A Grammar of Dumi. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
- Not just an interesting and complex language, but a very good description of Dumi shamanism, too.
Ikoro, Suanu. 1996. The Kana Language. Leiden, Research School CNWS.
- A very interesting grammar of this Kegboid language.
Matisoff, James. A Grammar of Lahu.
Michailovsky, Boyd. 1988. La langue Hayu. Collection Sciences du Langage, Paris: Editions du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique.
- My personal model for a well-organized, well-presented grammar.
Rutgers, Roland. 1998. Yamphu. Grammar, texts and Lexicon. Leiden: Research School CNWS.
- One of the very best grammars I've read recently. Very, very full of fully glossed examples (36.000 glosses!), texts, lexicon, discussion, and a fascinating language to boot.
Pulleyblank, Edwin G. 1995. Outline of classical Chinese grammar Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
Solnit, David. 1997. Eastern Kayah Li. Grammar, Texts, Glossary. University of Hawai'i Press.
Baumann, James John. 1975. Pronouns and Pronominal Morphology in Tibeto-Burman. Dissertation U. of California.
Benedict, Paul K. The Sino-Tibetan Tonal System, Langues et techniques, nature et societé, J. Barreau et al., réd., Vol I, Approche Linguistique>>, 25-34
Fillmore, Charles. 1968. "The case for case". In E. Bach and R. Harms (eds.), Universals in Linguistic Theory. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, New York.
Haudricourt, André-Georges. De l'origine des tons en viêtnamien, Journal Asiatique 242, 68-
Hombert, Jean-Marie, John J. Ohala, William G. Ewan, 1979, Phonetic Explanations for the Development of Tones, Language Vol 5, 1 (37-58)
- I deplored the lack of attention for tonogenesis in my comments on Bynon (1977), but this paper goes a long way to alleviating my craving for information.
Hyman, L.M. (ed) 1973. Consonant types and tone. (Southern California occasional papers in linguistics, 1) LA: USC.
Matisoff, James, 1990. On Megalocomparison. Language, 66. 109-20
- Everyone has to read this!
Nichols, Johanna. 1986. Head-marking and dependent-marking grammar, Language 62 (1), 56-119
- This is another must-read! Johanna Nichols discusses the use of grammatical features in determining genetic affiliations, and presents a whole lot of theoretical implications.
Weidert, Alfons. 1985. ‘Paradigmatic typology and its application to verb agreement analysis’. pp. 903-963 in Pieper & Stickel, eds., Studia Linguistica Diachronica et Synchronica. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Bacot, Jaques. 1912. "L'écriture cursive tibétaine" Journal asiatique s.5-78.
Daniels, Peter and William Bright (eds.). 1996. The world's writing systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Incredibly expensive, but worth every last cent. The best book on scripts there is - now if they had included a cdrom with fonts of all the scripts in the book, I would have been in heaven. Almost all scripts are exhaustively discussed, complete with an example text.
Hosking, R.F. and G.M. Meredith-Owens. 1966. A Handbook of Asian Scripts. London: British Museam.
Jensen, Hans. 1970. Sign, Symbol and Script. London: Allen and Unwin.
Lepsius, C.R. 1863. Standard Alphabet for Reducing Unwritten Languages and Foreign Graphic Systems to a Uniform Orthography in European Letter: Recommended for Adaption by the Church Missionary Society. Second Edition. Willams & Norgate: London & W. Hertz: Berlin (Republished 1981: Amsterdam Studies in the Theory and History of Linguistic Science, I, Amsterdam Classics in Linguistics, Volume 5, Amsterdam, John Benjamins.)
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