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The Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics

R. L. Trask

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Historical and comparative linguistics has been a major scholarly discipline for 200 years, and yet this is the first dictionary ever devoted to it. With nearly 2400 entries, this dictionary covers every aspect of the subject, from the most venerable work to the exciting advances of the last few years, many of which have not even made it into textbooks yet.

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About the Author

R. L. Trask is Professor of Linguistics in the School of Cognitive and Computing Sciences at the University of Sussex.


At last, a dictionary of historical and comparative linguistics - the only one of its kind. It is a very extensive compilation and provides just the right amount of information in the individual entries, with clear and accurate definitions, historical and theoretical contexts, and appropriate references. The whole field and all who work in it are much the richer for having this reference work.
- Professor Lyle Campbell, Department of Linguistics, University of Canterbury, New Zealand
Although dictionaries and encyclopedias of general linguistics have been rather numerous in the last period, this “Dictionary” limited to historical and comparative linguistics offers a lot that cannot be easily found elsewhere … This is a very useful tool not only for beginners and advanced students but a good synthesis and reference book for professionals.
As the author notes in the preface, 'Historical linguistics was the first branch of linguistics to be placed on a firm scholarly footing, around the beginning of the nineteenth century' yet this is the first dictionary specifically devoted to its terminology and is thus a welcome addition to the field. With nearly 2,400 entries, it provides thorough coverage of every aspect of historical linguistics, including Indo-European studies, language families, the sociolinguistic study of language change, and several others.
In his Dictionary of Historical and Comparative Linguistics, Larry Trask surveys a range of language areas and sub-disciplines beyond the scope of most people working alone. Because of its breadth, it is an indispensable reference work for the majority of linguists, from the acolyte to the experienced practitioner.
- Professor Dorothy Disterheft, Linguistics Program, University of South Carolina