My Linguistics Library
[Links are to
entries for the book.]
Out of Print. This was one of
the first books I read about language. An excellent introduction for the
beginner, it explains phonetics, phonology, syntax and semantics in simple
A comprehensive introduction to the study of language and linguistics, this
text covers all the major topics in linguistics: phonetics, phonology,
morphology, syntax, and semantics as well as pragmatics, historical change,
social and regional dialects, child language, writing, language processing, and
the neurobiology of language.
Another early introductory
text. This text explains what linguistics is, why it appeals, how it
works, what issues it confronts and the practical impact it can have on our
Out of Print. Covers some fundamental
concepts of language structure such as lexical formation, syntax, phonology.
A basic introduction to linguistics and the study of language which offers a
general account of the nature of language and of the aims, methods and
fundamental principles of linguistic theory. Introduces the sub-fields of
linguistics: the sounds of language, grammar, semantics, language change,
psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, language and culture.
A survey of the aspects of language including phonology, morphology, lexicon,
syntax and semantics, but also covers the psychology of language and language
learning, language origins and how languages change.
A coffee table book on linguistics. This was a gift that I probably
would not have bought on my own, but I found it to be absolutely
fascinating. It's a large format, profusely illustrated book on the
history, structure, analysis and use of the English language, from the earliest
arrival of the Angles in the British Isles, to the latest computerized analyses
of language, and everything in between.
This book is a guide for linguistic fieldworkers who wish to write
a description of the morphology and syntax of an underdocumented language. It
offers a possible outline for a grammatical description, with many questions
designed to help address the key topics; and appendices offer guidance on text
and elicited data, and on sample reference grammars which readers might wish to
consult. Although this would be a valuable resource to anyone engaged in
linguistic fieldwork, it comes closest of any text I have read to a
conlinguistic cookbook. [Must read for all conlangers]
This introduction to the ways languages mark relations between words in
sentences examines the recurring strategies of case marking across languages. It
describes the systems of suffixes familiar from languages such as Latin,
and the roles of prepositions, postpositions and the pronominal elements on
Never really got through this
one. A difficult and highly technical read, this text explores the domain
of tense and aspect from the point pf view of "the interface between syntax
and semantics." The authors adopt Chomsky's minimalist
framework, proposing a theory of features to account for cross-linguistic
variation existing among the languages surveyed (Romance and Germanic).
Introduces the range of variation
found intense systems cross-linguistically.
An introduction to verbal aspect as a general linguistic phenomenon, with
examples primarily from English, Slavonic and Romance languages.
This text provides a description, across a wide variety of languages,
of the notion of modaliy. Palmer compares and contrasts the ways in which modelity is grammaticalized, its
various functions and its relation to other grammatical categories.
Out of Print. This text presents a
detailed account of the uses and functions of English modals. The framework for
that discussion is in terms of 'degrees' of modality, which include possibility
and necessity, and 'kinds' of modality, which include epistemic, deontic and
This is the definitive work on
ergativity, a popular case paradigm for conlangers. Dixon provides a
survey of both morphological and syntactic ergativity. He discusses the
various kinds of ergitivity splits and investigates their semantic bases.
This book considers the treatment of
syntactic ergativity within modern syntactic frameworks argues for the
decoupling of grammatical relations and argument structure.
This text discusses both inflectional and lexical morphology,, derivational
processes and productivity, compounds, paradigms and markedness. A
valuable introduction to the topic.
Although confined to English, this text provides a useful survey of
word-formation including a useful resolution of the terminological confusion
that exists in this area.
Many examples in this text reveal that the grammatical systems of the
familiar European languages are far from typical of the world's languages in a
typological survey of grammatical roles and the relations of familiar concepts
in traditional grammars.
This book provides a data-oriented
investigation of the syntax and semantics of prepositional complementation
patterns in English.
A comprehensive study of causative
constructions found in the world's languages.
A descriptive grammar of English with
a strong semantic and discourse/functional focus. Explains the basics of
Out of Print. One of my favorite
books. This text presents the major theoretical developments in generative
syntax and the empirical arguments motivating them. The focus of the book
is syntactic argumentation. Beginning with the fundamentals of generative
syntax, it proceeds by a series of gradually unfolding arguments to analyses of
some of its most sophisticated proposals.
A classic text, this is Jespersen's
overview of grammatical concepts, with special attention to discrepancies
between grammatical categories and their notional counterparts and the reasons
for those discrepancies.
Jespersen puts forward his views on
grammatical structure in a kind of shorthand formalism, devising symbols that
represent various grammatical elements and then analyzing sentences in terms of
Out of Print. This book approaches language from a semantic
perspective, taking semantic structure as the basis theme. It was this
text that influenced the creation of verb classes (action, process,
action/process) in amman iar.
This text surveys the fundamental
semantic concepts that the author believes to be the building blocks of natural
This text continues the survey begun in Lingua Mentalis. The author
provides an approach to language meaning via a Natural Semantic Metalanguage or
NSM. In the book, Wierzbicka first gives an account of the NSM approach
with the list of proposed primitives. She then moves on to discuss the syntax of
the NSM. The remaining chapters are mainly on the explications of words
and grammatical structures, with justifications.
This text presents a semantic
approach to syntax and morphology. It offers a methodology which
demonstrates that syntax is neither autonomous nor arbitrary, but follows from
Out of Print. This is another of Wierzbicka's attempts to discover
fundamental semantic concepts that can be used to provide an analysis of lexical
Focusing on the English language, this text provides an introduction to
semantics and explores how languages organize and express meaning through words,
parts of words and sentences.
This work offers an interesting approach to grammar, arguing that a speaker
"codes" a meaning into grammatical forms in order to communicate them
to a hearer. Investigating the interrelation of grammar and meaning, Dixon
uncovers a rationale for the varying grammatical properties of different words.
He offers a review of some of the main points of English syntax, as well as a
discussion of English verbs in terms of semantic types. Finally, he examines
five specific grammatical topics: complement clauses in detail; complement
clauses, transitivity and causatives; passive construction; promotion of a
non-subject to subject slot; and the relation between verb constructions.
This text establishes the descriptive and generalizable facts about lexical
relations including: idomaticity, lexical ambiguity, synonymy, and hierarchical
In this reference work, Beth Levin
classifies over 3,000 English verbs according to shared meaning and behavior.
Levin starts with the hypothesis that a verb's meaning influences its syntactic
behavior and develops it into a powerful tool for studying the English verb
lexicon. She shows how identifying verbs with similar syntactic behavior
provides an effective means of distinguishing semantically coherent verb
classes, and isolates these classes by examining verb behavior with respect to a
wide range of syntactic alternations that reflect verb meaning.
This book describes both inflection
and lexical word formation and their relation to syntax, phonology and
This text is designed to reflect, in detail, the morphological features of
the Navajo language--an objective that includes the identification and
description of about 1,130 roots that, variously combined and manipulated,
underlie its extensive vocabulary. This is not an easy text to make use of.
This book presents a radical hypothesis. It argues that Old (loosely: Early
and Mid-Zhou) had a rich affixal morphology, typologically comparable to many SE Asian
languages today, but radically divergent from its medieval successor(s) and
modern dialect descendants.
Presents a theory of lexical semantics that addresses the problem of the
"multiplicity of word meaning"; that is, how we are able to give an
infinite number of senses to words with finite means. The essence of the theory
is that the lexicon functions generatively, first by providing an
expressive vocabulary for characterizing lexical information; then, by
developing a framework for manipulating fine-grained distinctions in word
descriptions; and finally, by formalizing a set of mechanisms for specialized
composition of aspects of such descriptions of words, as they occur in context,
extended and novel senses are generated.
Out of print. This text proposes a
general theory that agues that the intonational structure of a sentence
determines certain aspects of its stress pattern. It also offers a theory
of the focus-prosody relation.
One of the best book available on introductory Phonetics. Most of the
main concepts of phonetics are introduced through a discussion of the phonetics
Out of Print. A practical and
readable elementary account of phonetics. Includes an account of physiological
phonetics as well as experimental or acoustic phonetics and machine analysis.
Out of Print. Part of the 'Contrastive Structure Series', this text is
intended to stress the similarities and differences between English and German
sound systems. There was a companion text 'The Grammatical Structures of
English and German by Herbert Kufner which does the same for the grammatical
systems of the two languages. I do not own the latter text, however.
Must read for conlangers. Comrie provides an analysis, comparison and
classification for a wide range of languages.
Another must read for conlangers.
This three volume set offers a survey of syntactic and morphological structures
of the world's languages that provides a smorgasbord of conlinguistic
This text provides an introduction to
key theoretical concepts and descriptive devices of Chomsky's minimalist
program. This text presupposes no prior knowledge of syntax.
Another minimalist approach to
syntactic theory. This one covers a wide range of topics including:
syntactic structure, merger, empty categories, checking, head movement, operator
movement, et. al. This is a good introduction to the subject that doesn't
require prior knowledge of syntactic theory.
This text discusses transformational grammar in relation to traditional and
structural grammar, enabling the reader to relate the theory to what you already
know about grammar. Although all important technical terms and processes are
presented, non-technical language is used as much as possible.
The work in which Noam
Chomsky first made known his controversial theories of language.
The follow up to his primary work, Syntactic Structures, this work includes the
introduction of such concepts as Deep Structure, Universal Grammar, and makes
clear the relationship between grammar and meaning. The theory is now outdated
and the writing style typical of Chomsky.
Out of Print. Discusses the ways in
which transformation grammar can be used to discover things about
This text develops an hypothesis that
reduces a range of empirical phenomena to a notion of pure derivation. For
some reason I have two copies of this text.
This text presents a theory of word
structure which relates to a generative grammar of language. Surprisingly
genetic linguistics, historical linguistics, comparative linguistics, linguistic
reconstruction and linguistics as part of anthropology.
Out of Print. This text presents a survey of methodological procedures and
theoretical positions in the diachronic analysis of language.
Dixon presents his theory of punctuated equilibrium to describe how languages
change. He challenges linguists to dedicate more time to the study and
description of the thousands of languages on the verge of extinction, rather
than devote their energies to arcane formalisms. The author is also highly
critical of those historical linguists who claim to have found evidence for the
"mother of all languages", accusing them of poor methodology. This
book is not overly technical, and is thus suited for both a professional and a
Although somewhat out of date, this book contains a lot of information on the
ways European languages are connected. The section on artificial languages shows
the influences of Bodmer's editor, Lancelot Hogben of Interglossa fame.
The word lists in the appendix can, however, be very helpful for conlangers.
This Mario Pei's classic account of the structure of language, how it was
formed and how it changed
Out of Print. Discusses the origins,
development and expansion of the Romance Family of languages.
Out of Print. This text takes English from its beginnings to the present
day. It begins with an overview of what we know about present-day English,
returns to the European origins of the language, traces them as they developed
first in England and later in America, and concludes with recent developments.
Neither a dictionary nor an encyclopedia, this text deals with key concepts that
beginning linguists are likely to encounter. Key Concepts offers
terms related to grammatical analysis, branches of linguistics, discourse
analysis, varieties of language, related phenomena, and simple grammatical
concepts such as adverb and noun.
This dictionary of grammatical terms covers both current and traditional
terminology in syntax and morphology. It includes descriptive terms, the major
theoretical concepts of the most influential grammatical frameworks, and the
chief terms from mathematical and computational linguistics. It contains over
1500 entries, providing definitions and examples, pronunciations, the earliest
sources of terms and suggestions for further reading, and recommendations about
competing and conflicting usages.
This book appears to be out of print. This book gives detailed and
exact definitions of the most important terms of linguistics and phonetics and
particularly in the field of phonetics and phonology the book is an valuable
source of information.
Although confined to English grammar,
this text presents an interesting and innovative approach to the complexities of
grammar through the study of terminology.
A comprehensive reference work that provides detailed information about forty
of the world's major languages. Written by acknowledged specialists in the
field, the volume begins with a general introduction to language and language
families, followed by language-family sections that provide an informative essay
about that language, and individual chapters that discuss the history,
distribution, syntax, grammar and punctuation, writing and spelling systems,
standards of usage, and other important aspects of each language. Another
conlang must have.
The Dyirbal Language of North Queensland - R.M.W. Dixon |
This text is out of print. This
is a classic study of an ergative Australian language that had a significant
influence on the development of my conlang amman iar.
Out of Print. This was a difficult book to find. I searched for
this book for over six months before discovering a copy in an obscure bookshop
in Australia. Better organized than his earlier work on Dyirbal, this is
an excellent introduction to Australian languages.
The only volume of a set of five?
that I own. This one covers the languages of Melbourne including
Wotwurrung, Panyjima, Djabugay and Mbabaram.
Originally published in 1875, this text is a classic. It is most
remarkable for its extremely well organized format and exhaustive treatment of
Underhill organized the material in
this text within the framework of transformational grammar. However, he
carefully avoids the use of formal linguistic terminology. The text covers
both written and colloquial Turkish.
A Comprehensive description of the
Tibetan language. Treats the classical language on its on terms rather
than by means of descriptive categories appropriate to other languages.
This book describes the logic of Tibetan grammar and syntax through graded
readings and narrative explanations. The large glossary, which is indexed by
page, serves as an invaluable reference grammar.
Out of Print. Part of the 'Languages of Asia and Africa' series. This
text provides a general description of Swahili, dealing with the main structural
characteristics and particularly the classification of the noun.
Out of Print. First published in 1944. I purchased this text while
living in Kenya in the early '70s. It was from this text that I learned
Out of Print. This is a comprehensive guide to contemporary Welsh grammar.
The book is divided into more than 400 sections which are further divided to
take account of features which relate specifically to a particular register or
Dated, but historically
important collection of essays dealing with the linguistics of JRRT's
languages. This was the first such effort, but predated The Silmarillion
and HoME series and thus reaches conclusions that have since been proven
Norwegian Grammar - Bjarne Berulfsen|
This little book doesn't even have an
ISBN number. A concise description of the grammar. No good for
learning the language, but a nice reference.
This book was first published in 1889, and although thestate of the art has
improved since, this text still provides a resource for untrained readers who
are interested in ancient Egyptian writing. The book provides an introductory
overview of how the hieroglyphic system relates to major categories of Egyptian
Out of print. I acquired this
pair of dictionaries while I was living in East Africa about 25 years ago.
It served me well while learning the language and remains my primary reference
for Swahili lexis.
Out of Print. Standard Turkish-English dictionary. Includes
irregular verb listings.
Turkish Dictionary from the Hippocrene Standard dictionary series.
Standard Arabic-English/English Arabic dictionary from the Hippocrene
Standard dictionary series.
This is the Hans Wehr dictionary of modern written Arabic, considered by many
to be the best available. I do not believe this is the J. Cowan of 'The
Lojban Reference Grammar' and conlang list fame.
This book is an excellent introduction into the expresiveness of the Japanese
language. This "Dictionary" is not merely an alphabetical
listing in dictionary style, but a collection of over 10,000 Japanese idiomatic
words and phrases organized into over 200 "thought categories".
A Japanese dictionary in a convenient form for those of us who have not yet
mastered the use of characters and the kana syllabary. Surprisingly
comprehensive for its size.
Considered one of the best of those available, this dictionary includes many
idioms and idiomatic expressions that go a long way toward earning the title
Gobeth En Lham Edhellen (Sindarin Dictionary) - Ryszard Derdzinski
I recently acquired this attractive copy, autographed by the author, of a
Sindarin dictionary. Despite the sparse documentation currently available
about Sindarin, Ryszard has done an incredible job. This text was
privately published and is available from the author only.
The idea that there once existed a language which perfectly and unambiguously
expressed the essence of all possible things and concepts has occupied the minds
of philosophers, theologians, mystics, and others for at least two millennia.
This book offers an investigation into the history of that idea and of its
profound influence on European thought, culture, and history.
Although this text refers disparagingly to the language creation pastime, it
nevertheless is a compelling read because Yaguello so often inadvertently
describes we conlangers so well.
Out of Print. Now out of date, this was my first introduction to the
technology of natural language processing. It presents the aspects of
language analysis, syntax, semantics, discourse and knowledge representation
using a case study approach.
This book is an introduction to areas of logic relevant to the analysis of
natural language. The range of topics covered is broad, including not only
propositional logic, predicate logic and modal logic, but also presuppositional
logic, many-valued and fuzzy logic, tense logic, et. al.