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This book introduces Proto-Indo-European, describes how it was reconstructed from its descendant languages, and shows what it reveals about the people who spoke it between 5,500 and 8,000 years ago. Using related evidence from archaeology and natural history the authors explore the lives, thoughts, passions, culture, society, economy, history, and environment of the Proto-Indo-Europeans. They include chapters on fauna, flora, family and kinship, clothing and textiles, food and drink, space and time, emotions, mythology, and religion, and describe the quest to discover the Proto-Indo-European homeland.
About the Author
J. P. Mallory is Professor of Prehistoric Archaeology at the Queen's University of Belfast. He holds a PhD in Indo-European Studies (1975) from the University of California. His books include In Search of the Indo-Europeans (1989) and, with Victor Mair, The Tarim Mummies: The Mystery of the First Westerners in Ancient China (2000). He is currently the editor of the Journal of Indo-European Studies and was elected to the Royal Irish Academy in 1996.
D. Q. Adams is Professor of English at the University of Idaho. He holds a PhD in Linguistics (1972) from the University of Chicago (1972). His published work includes An Introduction to Tocharian Historical Morphology (1988), A Dictionary of Tocharian B (1999), and numerous articles on Indo-European and especially Tocharian topics.
J. P. Mallory and D. Q. Adams are the co-editors of the Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture (1997).
[quote]When I heard that Oxford University Press would be publishing THE OXFORD INTRODUCTION TO PROTO-INDO-EUROPEAN AND THE INDO-EUROPEAN WORLD, I was excited. I envisioned an update of Oswald Szemerenyi's old Introduction to Indo-European Linguistics that, because of the specific research interests of authors J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, would not only reflect contemporary developments in IE linguistics, but would seamlessly show what we can reconstruct for the culture of PIE speakers. Well, the book is something like that, but it turns out not to be much of a useful introduction to the field.
The book is over 700 pages long, but the introduction to Proto-Indo-European itself is quite small, less than a 100 pages really. It's certainly no substitute for a real handbook like Szemerenyi's, Beekes', Fortson's, or (my favourite) Lehmann's. The branches of Indo-European, its phonology and the basics of its morphology, and the debate over the relationship between the disparate languages that are first attested are set out. The authors nicely use Schleier's tale in its progressive versions to show how reconstructions of Proto-Indo-European have been consistently refined. While the view of Proto-Indo-European is generally the same as in introductions from the 1990s, the authors do reconstruct four laryngeals instead of the usual three, and prefer the transcription *h-subscript-x for an unknown laryngeal instead of *H.
The bulk of the book's content concerns the reconstruction of PIE lexicon, with chapters divided along such themes as "Food and Drink", "Speech and Sound", and "Material Culture". This portion is exciting, especially when the authors link reconstruction to archaeological evidence to make even more detailed ventures about the nature of PIE society. Nonetheless, the material can be tiresome to read straight through; it works best in pieces or in consultation for specific topics.
A final chapter discusses the debate over the IE homeland, where the authors remain very non-committal about the whole deal. There are two appendices. The first sets out basic sound correspondences between PIE and the major IE groups in tabular form. The second a PIE-English and English-PIE wordlist, nearly a hundred pages long. The bibliography and general index together are nearly 200 pages long. So, one can understand that the book contains quite a bit that might seem "fluff".
If you are a student of Indo-European linguistics with previous knowledge gained through one of the great handbooks like Lehmann's Theoretical Bases of Indo-European Linguistics, then the reconstruction of the lexicon in this work of Mallory and Adams is sure to offer some entertainment. However, this is the sort of the thing that is best consulted in a university library, and I found the book not worth obtaining for a home collection.[/quote]
Of particular interest to those here will probably be the sections on religion and comparative mythology, although of course, all of the topics covered in the book serve to provide an understanding of the PIE culture.
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