Compendium of the world's languages /

Main Author: Campbell, George L.
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: London ; New York : Routledge, 1991.
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Review by Choice Review

Though there are other surveys of the world's languages, Campbell's reference work invites comparison with The World's Major Languages, ed. by Bernard Comrie (CH, Feb'88), a similar scholarly, authoritative work. Both have articles that treat an individual language or language family, providing general historical and sociolinguistic information and describing script, phonology, morphology, and syntax. Although Campbell covers more languages and language families, 370 (41 of which are language families) compared to Comrie's 50, Comrie provides treatment in more depth for those languages he does cover and conveniently gives the reader additional references at the end of each article; Campbell lists all the works he consulted in one alphabetical sequence at the end of the second volume. On the other hand, Campbell has been careful to standardize the structure of each article to facilitate comparative study. Liberal use of headers within the text enhances its accessibility. To illustrate those languages having a literary tradition he appends to the articles, in the original script when available, some verses from the Gospel of St. John. An appendix explains nearly 40 scripts in a chart format. Academic libraries at all levels.-A. DeMiller, Colorado State University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

For this second edition of a major reference on literary language, first published in 1991, linguist/translator Campbell has added 18 new articles and expanded others, increasing the number of pages by 400. He describes the structure of over 300 languages and language families, directing his text to readers with at least a basic knowledge of linguistics. Organized alphabetically and ranging from two to ten pages, the articles present the standard outline from the first edition: introduction/headword, script, phonology, morphology and syntax, illustrative text, and bibliography. The morphology section examines major parts of speech and typical word order. To guide readers, Campbell provides a lengthy table that functions as both a table of contents and an index; typographical conventions indicate languages with their own articles and those that are covered in a language family's profile. For this edition, the bibliography has been reorganized by language to facilitate access, yet the listing is weakened by the inclusion of numerous older sources. While this work upholds the first edition's reputation for largely accurate content, general readers may prefer the more prosaic entries found in three other works: R.E. Asher's Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (Pergamon, 1993), Andrew Dalby's Dictionary of Languages (LJ 5/1/99), and Bernard Comrie's World's Major Languages (LJ 9/15/87). Another new, less expensive resource is the forthcoming Facts About the World's Languages (H.W. Wilson, 2000), which will cover 175 languages. Noting the high price and the limitations mentioned above, this title is recommended for academic and large public libraries because of its valuable descriptions of language structures.DMarianne Orme, West Lafayette, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.