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An Introduction to the Languages of the World
ISBN 0195081161 / 9780195081169 / 0-19-508116-1
Publisher Oxford University Press, USA
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The only textbook of its kind, An Introduction to the Languages of the World is designed to introduce beginning linguistics students, who now typically start their study with little background in languages, to the variety of the languages of the world. It is ideal for use in courses where students have mastered the basic principles of linguistics but lack background in the broad range of language phenomena found in the world's languages, such as vowel harmony and ergative constructions. It offers students an opportunity to explore, at various levels, structures of very different, highly interesting languages without necessarily possessing a speaking or reading knowledge of these languages.
Lyovin explains the classification of languages, discussing not only genetic classification but typological and sociolinguistic classification as well. He follows this with an explication of writing systems. A chapter is devoted to each of the world's continents, with in-depth analyses of representative languages of Europe, Asia, Africa, Oceania, and America, and a separate chapter covers pidgins and creoles. Helpful features include an appendix of nineteen maps, student exercises, and suggestions for further reading. [via]