Basic I-E book advice?

Jim Rader jrader at M-W.COM
Mon Jun 14 13:42:43 UTC 1999

I would suggest J.P. Mallory's _In Search of the Indo-Europeans_,
which is a sort of semi-popularization.  It's light on the
linguistics, and has the sort of elementary boo-boos, like missing
diacritics, that make linguists cringe, but overall it's not that
bad.  Published by Thames & Hudson, and currently out of print, but
it can probably be found in lots of libraries and used book stores.

The Shipley book, with all respect for Alan's opinion, is a horror as
far as Indo-Europeanists are concerned.  It's a melange of free
association by someone who knew essentially nothing about the
subject.  For anyone who wants a real linguistic introduction, by far
the best thing available in English is Robert S.P. Beekes
_Comparative Indo-European Linguistics_, published by Benjamins; I
think the paperback costs about $30--well worth it for anyone with a
real interest in the subject.  Oxford U.P. recently published an
English translation of Oswald Szemerenyi's introduction to
Indo-European, which has existed in German and Russian versions for
several decades.  I think he's dead now, and the text may be slightly
out of date; his views, in any case, were quite idiosyncratic on some
subjects, though I've used the book with profit for a long time.

Jim Rader

> How about Joseph Shipley's The Origins of English Words: A Discursive Dictionary
> of Indo-European Roots?  BTW, when the second edition of The American Heritage
> Dictionary dropped all the IE material, it was published separately as Watkins's
> The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.  Now Watkins's work is
> back in the third edition of AHD but revised.  Is the separate dictionary
> available and, if so, in an updated version or has it simply been reabsorbed?
> Alan B.
> You know, years ago,  my mother used to say to me, she'd say, "In this world,
> Elwood, you must be ..."--she always called me 'Elwood'--"In this world, Elwood,
> you must be oh, so smart or oh, so pleasant."  Well, for years I was smart.  I
> recommend pleasant.  And you may quote me.
>                                 Elwood P. Dowd
>                 -----Original Message-----
>                 From:   Jesse T Sheidlower [SMTP:jester at PANIX.COM]
>                 Sent:   Monday, June 14, 1999 9:59 AM
>                 To:     ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
>                 Subject:        Basic I-E book advice?
>                 A correspondent has written to say that he loves
>                 Calvert Watkins' essay on Indo-European in the
>                 back of the American Heritage Dictionary, and would
>                 like to read more on the subject. Does anyone have
>                 any not-too-scholarly recommendations for followup
>                 reading for this person?
>                 Thanks in advance.
>                 Jesse Sheidlower
>                 Random House Reference
>                 <jester at>

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