Basic I-E book advice?

James E. Clapp jeclapp at WANS.NET
Wed Jun 16 06:14:07 UTC 1999

On the Indo-European question, I have a few small suggestions and then a
question of my own for those knowledgeable folks who've been writing in.
I'll put my question into a separate e-mail so as not to mess up Jesse's
thread.  My suggestions:

I would mention to your correspondent that looking in any library catalog
under subject headings beginning with "Indo-European" or "Indo-Europeans"
and "Aryan" or "Aryans" would likely produce a wealth of material.  When
I performed this exercise a few years ago in the Columbia University
library I had 448 hits.  Non-university libraries might have a higher
ratio of "not-too-scholarly" to "too-scholarly" entries, but it's pretty
easy in any case to scan past the overly technical entries.

One old book that looks promising--though I haven't read it and lack the
expertise to evaluate it--is  V. Gordon Childe,  _The Aryans: A Study of
Indo-European Origins_ (Alfred A Knopf 1926), part of a series called The
History of Civilization.  It includes, for example, a chapter called
"Primitive Aryan Culture reconstructed by Linguistic Palaeontology,"
which is a major topic in Calvert Watkins's essay.

On the purely linguistic side, the Philip Baldi essay on "Indo-European
Languages" in _The World's Major Languages (Bernard Comrie, ed., Oxford
University Press 1990), pp. 31-67, is a nice overview.

Following up on Alan Baragona's response, I note that the version of the
Watkins essay in his _The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European
Roots_ (Houghton Mifflin 1985) is different from that in the Third
Edition of the American Heritage Dictionary; perhaps it is the same as
the essay in the first edition of the AHD, or perhaps it is a third
version.  In any case, your correspondent could be advised that these
different versions of the essay exist, since they might supplement each
other to some extent.

If your correspondent wants to see what else Watkins himself has written,
there is a list of his publications (1954-1997) in _Mir Curad: Studies in
Honor of Calvert Watkins_ (Innsbruck: Institut fur Sprachwissenschaft der
Universitat Innsbruck, 1998).

James E. Clapp

Jesse T Sheidlower wrote:
> 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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