LINGUIST List 8.1646

Mon Nov 17 1997

Sum: Textbooks for Historical Linguistics

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <>


  1. SEEGMILLERM, SUM: Textbooks for Historical Linguistics

Message 1: SUM: Textbooks for Historical Linguistics

Date: Mon, 17 Nov 1997 01:44:58 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: SUM: Textbooks for Historical Linguistics

About ten days ago, I posted an inquiry on the Linguist List asking
for suggestions for a textbook for an undergraduate course in
historical linguistics. I would sincerely like to thank the following
people for their very helpful replies:

 Richard Alderson Paul Peranteau
 Donn Bayard Marc Picard
 Ben Brumfield Marc Pierce
 Joaquim Brandao de Carvalhao Alicia Rodriguez-Alvarez
 Arild Hestvik Gonzalo Rubio
 Jaklin Kornfilt Steven Schaufele
 Jose-Luis Mendivil Giro Jeff Siegel
 Viola Miglio Herb Stahlke

A total of 16 books were mentioned in the replies. A complete
list follows, with some comments below.

 Jean Aitchison, Language Change: Progress or Decay?
 Cambridge U. Press.

 Raimo Antilla, An Introduction to Historical Linguistics.

 Anthony Arlotto, Introduction to Historical Linguistics.
 University Press of America, 1972.

 Leonard Bloomfield, Language. Hold Rinehart Winston, 1933.

 Theodora Bynon, Historical Linguistics. Cambridge U. Press,

 Terry Crowley, An Introduction to Historical Linguistics,
 3rd ed. Oxford U. Press, 1992.

 Anthony Fox, Linguistic Reconstruction: and Introduction to
 Theory and Method. Oxford U. Press, 1995.

 Hans H. Hock, Principles of Historical Linguistics, 2nd ed.
 Mouton, 1989.

 Hans H. Hock and Brian D. Joseph, Language History, Language
 Change, and Language Relationship: An Introduction to
 Historical and Comparative Linguistics. Mouton, 1996.

 Robert Jeffers and Ilse Lehiste, Principles and Methods for
 Historical Linguistics. MIT Press.

 Tony Kroch and Don Ringe have a book in preparation. (Title
 and status unknown.)

 Roger Lass, Historical Linguistics and Language Change.
 Cambridge U. Press, 1997.

 Winfred P. Lehmann, Historical Linguistics, 3rd edition.
 Routledge, 1992.

 April McMahon, Understanding Language Change. Cambridge U.
 Press, 1994.

 R.L. Trask, Historical Linguistics. Arnold 1996.

 R.L. Trask, Language Change. Routledge, 1994.

While many of the respondents offered comments on the books they
recommended, it is difficult to compare them because some were based
on use in the classroom while others were not; and some comments were
extensive but not all. Also, the newer books (1996-1997) may be less
familiar than those that have been around for a while. However, the
books that were mentioned the most frequently were Crowley,s, Hock's,
and Trask's, and Lehmann, and the first three of these were all
praised as being excellent. The comments on Lehmann were mixed: some
raves, some reservations. And although Hock's book seems to be highly
regarded, some respondents thought it might be too advanced or too
detailed for an undergraduate class.

My thanks again go to everyone who responded. You have made the job of
choosing a text much easier.

Steve Seegmiller
Linguistics Department
Montclair State University
Upper Montclair, NJ 07043
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