A Mon-Khmer Comparative Dictionary is the magnum opus of Professor Harry L.
Shorto (1919-1995), formerly Professor of Mon-Khmer Studies in the
University of London, School of Oriental and African Studies, until his
retirement in 1984. He is the author of two standard reference works, A
Dictionary of Modern Spoken Mon (1962) and the highly respected author of
the standard reference to epigraphic Mon – A Dictionary of the Mon
Inscriptions (1971) – as well as the classic dictionary. Shorto held the
Chair in Mon-Khmer Studies. The MKCD is Shorto's grand synthesis of seventy
years of historical and comparative research on the Mon-Khmer languages.
Meant to be published in the early 1980s, Shorto's manuscript was
rediscovered by his daughter Anna, and has been carefully edited in line
with the author's intentions. The MKCD presents 2,246 etymologies with
almost 30,000 lexical citations; even today, it is the most extensive
analysis of Mon-Khmer to appear since Wilhelm Schmidt laid the foundations
of comparative Mon-Khmer exactly 100 years ago with the Grundzüge einer
Lautlehre der Mon-Khmer-Sprachen (1905) and Die Mon-Khmer-Völker (1906).
A Mon-Khmer Comparative Dictionary includes numerous Munda, Austronesian,
Thai, Burmese and Chinese lexical comparisons. It is an incomparable
resource for studying Southeast Asia's rich legacy of language contact, and
for investigating distant genetic relations with its largest, oldest
language family. Clearly establishing the terms of reference for future
discussion of Mon-Khmer etymology, Shorto's MKCD joins such defining works
as Emeneau and Burrow's A Dravidian Etymological Dictionary (1961) and
Turner's A Comparative Dictionary of the Indo-Aryan Languages (1966-85) in
the canon of 20th century comparative linguistics.