Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.

3/2/2005

Review: Facts About The World’s Lanuages

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Rooster which is in the early evening.
The moon is a Third Quarter Moon

This is the coolest book since the first encyclopedia!
To me, it is, anyway. I’ve been borrowing a friend’s copy of Facts About The World’s Languages and really enjoying it. I saw it on the shelf at his house back around Thanksgiving time and fell in love with it. It’s a little rich for my blood, right now, but I know that I’ll eventually get a copy. In a nutshell, Facts About The World’s Languages has basic phological and morphological thumbnails of virtually all the world’s known languages. It is super, super cool to see the phonogical analysis of major languages all laid out in easy-to-read tables and summarized in neat, little paragraphs. For one thing, it pretty well shows people making up their own languages how to layout such a description. For another, it’s providing me fodder for my own ideas about language creation. Best of all, it’s helping me do the hard parts, choosing a phonology and displaying it for others to read! That, for some reason, is the hardest damn thing for me. I just have a really hard time getting my head around the different labels for the syllabic descriptors. Frankly, I just can’t remember the difference between a labiodental consonant and a straight labial consonant and all that sort of thing. I guess it doesn’t really matter that much, but it bothers me.
In any case, this is the coolest bit of language-related inspiration that I’ve seen in a very long time. It neatly lays out complicated morphological systems in a way that makes sense to me. And, the short histories of the various languages are fascinating, as well. But, these thumbnails go into fairly good detail. For instance, they include influences from other languages, the probable evolution of the language, as well as the geographical history of the language. Really, it’s completely captivating.
In short, Facts About The World’s Languages is a great book that will be the object of lust and envy of every conlanger who sees it on your shelf. Go buy one!

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