In this volume, the world’s leading experts describe the world’s major languages. It is estimated that there are more than 250 established language families in the world, and over 6800 distinct languages, many of which are threatened or endangered. This volume provides the most comprehensive survey available on a large proportion of these. It contains 377 articles on specific languages or language families drawn from the two editions of the Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics (ELL). The articles describe the sounds, meaning, structure, and family relationships of the languages, and have been chosen to illustrate the range and diversity of human language.
The Concise Encyclopedia of Languages of the World is unrivalled in its scope and content. We include articles on all the large language families, such as Austronesian by Tony Crowley, Niger-Congo by John Bendor- Samuel, and Indo-European by Neville Collinge; on many smaller families, like the North America Iroquoian by Marianne Mithun and Caddoan by David Rood; and on many ‘language isolates’, languages with disputed genetic affiliation to any other language, such as Burushaski by Greg Anderson, Basque by Jose ́ Hualde, and Japanese by Masayoshi Shibatani. We have included a few languages which are no longer spoken but which have been important for historical linguistics, like Ancient Egyptian by John Ray, Hittite by J G McQueen, and Pictish by William Nicolaisen. There are also articles on pidgins and creoles spoken all over the world, from an article by Suzanne Romaine on Tok Pisin in Papua New Guinea to another by Raj Mesthrie on Fanagalo in southern Africa; as well as various articles on Sign languages by Wendy Sandler, Ulrike Zeshan, and Trevor Johnston respectively. All the world’s major languages are covered.
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