The Pages of The Gray Wizard


ámman îar
Littlest Conlanger

My Linguistics Library

[Links are to entries for the book.]

Introductory Texts

Language Made Plain - Anthony Burgess
Out of Print. This was one of the first books I read about language. An excellent introduction for the beginner, it explains phonetics, phonology, syntax and semantics in simple terms.
An Introduction to Language - Fromkin and Rodman
A comprehensive introduction to the study of language and linguistics, this text covers all the major topics in linguistics: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics as well as pragmatics, historical change, social and regional dialects, child language, writing, language processing, and the neurobiology of language.
Invitation to Linguistics - Richard Hudson
Another early introductory text. This text explains what linguistics is, why it appeals, how it works, what issues it confronts and the practical impact it can have on our lives.
Language and its Structure - Ronald Langacker
Out of Print. Covers some fundamental concepts of language structure such as lexical formation, syntax, phonology.
Language and Linguistics - John Lyons
A basic introduction to linguistics and the study of language which offers a general account of the nature of language and of the aims, methods and fundamental principles of linguistic theory. Introduces the sub-fields of linguistics: the sounds of language, grammar, semantics, language change, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, language and culture.
Aspects of Language - Dwight Bolinger
A survey of the aspects of language including phonology, morphology, lexicon, syntax and semantics, but also covers the psychology of language and language learning, language origins and how languages change.
The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language - David Crystal
A coffee table book on linguistics. This was a gift that I probably would not have bought on my own, but I found it to be absolutely fascinating. It's a large format, profusely illustrated book on the history, structure, analysis and use of the English language, from the earliest arrival of the Angles in the British Isles, to the latest computerized analyses of language, and everything in between.


Describing Morphosyntax - Thomas Payne
This book is a guide for linguistic fieldworkers who wish to write a description of the morphology and syntax of an underdocumented language. It offers a possible outline for a grammatical description, with many questions designed to help address the key topics; and appendices offer guidance on text and elicited data, and on sample reference grammars which readers might wish to consult. Although this would be a valuable resource to anyone engaged in linguistic fieldwork, it comes closest of any text I have read to a conlinguistic cookbook. [Must read for all conlangers]
Case - Barry J. Blake
This introduction to the ways languages mark relations between words in sentences examines the recurring strategies of case marking across languages. It describes the systems of suffixes familiar from languages such as Latin, and the roles of prepositions, postpositions and the pronominal elements on verbs.
Tense and Aspect : From Semantics to Morphosyntax - Alessandra Giorgi and Fabio Pianesi
Never really got through this one. A difficult and highly technical read, this text explores the domain of tense and aspect from the point pf view of "the interface between syntax and semantics." The authors adopt Chomsky's minimalist framework, proposing a theory of features to account for cross-linguistic variation existing among the languages surveyed (Romance and Germanic).
Tense - Bernard Comrie
Introduces the range of variation found intense systems cross-linguistically.
Aspect - Bernard Comrie
An introduction to verbal aspect as a general linguistic phenomenon, with examples primarily from English, Slavonic and Romance languages.
Mood and Modality - F. R. Palmer
This text provides a description, across a wide variety of languages, of the notion of modaliy. Palmer compares and contrasts the ways in which modelity is grammaticalized, its various functions and its relation to other grammatical categories.
Modality and the English Modals - F.R. Palmer
Out of Print. This text presents a detailed account of the uses and functions of English modals. The framework for that discussion is in terms of 'degrees' of modality, which include possibility and necessity, and 'kinds' of modality, which include epistemic, deontic and dynamic.
Ergativity - R.M.W. Dixon
This is the definitive work on ergativity, a popular case paradigm for conlangers. Dixon provides a survey of both morphological and syntactic ergativity. He discusses the various kinds of ergitivity splits and investigates their semantic bases.
Ergativity : Argument Structure and Grammatical Relations - Christopher Manning
This book considers the treatment of syntactic ergativity within modern syntactic frameworks argues for the decoupling of grammatical relations and argument structure.


Morphology - P.H. Matthews
This text discusses both inflectional and lexical morphology,, derivational processes and productivity, compounds, paradigms and markedness.  A valuable introduction to the topic.
English Word-Formation - Laurie Bauer
Although confined to English, this text provides a useful survey of word-formation including a useful resolution of the terminological confusion that exists in this area.


Grammatical Roles and Relations - F. R. Palmer
Many examples in this text reveal that the grammatical systems of the familiar European languages are far from typical of the world's languages in a typological survey of grammatical roles and the relations of familiar concepts in traditional grammars.
Prepositions and Complement Clauses - Juhani Rudanko
This book provides a data-oriented investigation of the syntax and semantics of prepositional complementation patterns in English.
Causatives and Causation - Jae Jung Song
A comprehensive study of causative constructions found in the world's languages.
English Syntax - From Word to Discourse - Lynn Berk
A descriptive grammar of English with a strong semantic and discourse/functional focus. Explains the basics of English syntax.
Syntactic Argumentation and the Structure of English - Scott Soames and David Perlmutter
Out of Print. One of my favorite books. This text presents the major theoretical developments in generative syntax and the empirical arguments motivating them. The focus of the book is syntactic argumentation. Beginning with the fundamentals of generative syntax, it proceeds by a series of gradually unfolding arguments to analyses of some of its most sophisticated proposals.
The Philosophy of Grammar - Otto Jespersen
A classic text, this is Jespersen's overview of grammatical concepts, with special attention to discrepancies between grammatical categories and their notional counterparts and the reasons for those discrepancies.
Analytic Syntax - Otto Jespersen
Jespersen puts forward his views on grammatical structure in a kind of shorthand formalism, devising symbols that represent various grammatical elements and then analyzing sentences in terms of these symbols.


Meaning and The Structure of Language - Wallace Chafe
Out of Print. This book approaches language from a semantic perspective, taking semantic structure as the basis theme. It was this text that influenced the creation of verb classes (action, process, action/process) in amman iar.
Lingua Mentalis : The Semantics of Natural Language - Anna Wierzbicka
This text surveys the fundamental semantic concepts that the author believes to be the building blocks of natural language.
Semantics: Primes and Universals - Anna Wierzbicka
This text continues the survey begun in Lingua Mentalis. The author provides an approach to language meaning via a Natural Semantic Metalanguage or NSM. In the book, Wierzbicka first gives an account of the NSM approach with the list of proposed primitives. She then moves on to discuss the syntax of the NSM. The remaining chapters are mainly on the explications of words and grammatical structures, with justifications.
The Semantics of Grammar - Anna Wierzbicka
This text presents a semantic approach to syntax and morphology. It offers a methodology which demonstrates that syntax is neither autonomous nor arbitrary, but follows from semantics.
Lexicography and Conceptual Analysis - Anna Wierzbicka
Out of Print. This is another of Wierzbicka's attempts to discover fundamental semantic concepts that can be used to provide an analysis of lexical concepts.
Introducing English Semantics - Charles Kreidler
Focusing on the English language, this text provides an introduction to semantics and explores how languages organize and express meaning through words, parts of words and sentences.
A New Approach to English Grammar on Semantic Principles - R.M.W. Dixon
This work offers an interesting approach to grammar, arguing that a speaker "codes" a meaning into grammatical forms in order to communicate them to a hearer. Investigating the interrelation of grammar and meaning, Dixon uncovers a rationale for the varying grammatical properties of different words. He offers a review of some of the main points of English syntax, as well as a discussion of English verbs in terms of semantic types. Finally, he examines five specific grammatical topics: complement clauses in detail; complement clauses, transitivity and causatives; passive construction; promotion of a non-subject to subject slot; and the relation between verb constructions.

Lexical Semantics

Lexical Semantics - D.A. Cruse
This text establishes the descriptive and generalizable facts about lexical relations including: idomaticity, lexical ambiguity, synonymy, and hierarchical relations.
English Verb Classes and Alternations - Beth Levin
In this reference work, Beth Levin classifies over 3,000 English verbs according to shared meaning and behavior. Levin starts with the hypothesis that a verb's meaning influences its syntactic behavior and develops it into a powerful tool for studying the English verb lexicon. She shows how identifying verbs with similar syntactic behavior provides an effective means of distinguishing semantically coherent verb classes, and isolates these classes by examining verb behavior with respect to a wide range of syntactic alternations that reflect verb meaning.
Lexeme-Morpheme Base Morphology - Robert Beard
This book describes both inflection and lexical word formation and their relation to syntax, phonology and semantics.
Analytic Lexicon of Navaho - Robert Young and William Morgan Sr.
This text is designed to reflect, in detail, the morphological features of the Navajo language--an objective that includes the identification and description of about 1,130 roots that, variously combined and manipulated, underlie its extensive vocabulary. This is not an easy text to make use of.
The Roots of Old Chinese - Laurent Sagart
This book presents a radical hypothesis. It argues that Old (loosely: Early and Mid-Zhou) had a rich affixal morphology, typologically comparable to many SE Asian languages today, but radically divergent from its medieval successor(s) and modern dialect descendants.
The Generative Lexicon - James Pustejovsky
Presents a theory of lexical semantics that addresses the problem of the "multiplicity of word meaning"; that is, how we are able to give an infinite number of senses to words with finite means. The essence of the theory is that the lexicon functions generatively, first by providing an expressive vocabulary for characterizing lexical information; then, by developing a framework for manipulating fine-grained distinctions in word descriptions; and finally, by formalizing a set of mechanisms for specialized composition of aspects of such descriptions of words, as they occur in context, extended and novel senses are generated.


Phonology and Syntax - Elisabeth Selkirk
Out of print. This text proposes a general theory that agues that the intonational structure of a sentence determines certain aspects of its stress pattern. It also offers a theory of the focus-prosody relation.
A Course in Phonetics - Peter Ladefoged
One of the best book available on introductory Phonetics. Most of the main concepts of phonetics are introduced through a discussion of the phonetics of English.
Phonetics - Bertil Malmberg
Out of Print. A practical and readable elementary account of phonetics. Includes an account of physiological phonetics as well as experimental or acoustic phonetics and machine analysis.
The Sounds of English and German - William Moulton
Out of Print. Part of the 'Contrastive Structure Series', this text is intended to stress the similarities and differences between English and German sound systems.  There was a companion text 'The Grammatical Structures of English and German by Herbert Kufner which does the same for the grammatical systems of the two languages.  I do not own the latter text, however.

Linguistic Typology

Language Universals and Linguistic Typology - Bernard Comrie
Must read for conlangers.  Comrie provides an analysis, comparison and classification for a wide range of languages.
Language Typology and Syntactic Description - Vol I Clause Structure
Language Typology and Syntactic Description - Vol II Complex Constructions
Language Typology and Syntactic Description - Vol III Grammatical Categories and the Lexicon
- Timothy Shopen
Another must read for conlangers. This three volume set offers a survey of syntactic and morphological structures of the world's languages that provides a smorgasbord of conlinguistic 


Syntax: A Minimalist Introduction - Andrew Radford
This text provides an introduction to key theoretical concepts and descriptive devices of Chomsky's minimalist program. This text presupposes no prior knowledge of syntax.
Syntactic Theory and the Structure of English - Andrew Radford
Another minimalist approach to syntactic theory.  This one covers a wide range of topics including: syntactic structure, merger, empty categories, checking, head movement, operator movement, et. al.  This is a good introduction to the subject that doesn't require prior knowledge of syntactic theory.
An Introduction to Transformational Grammar - Diane Bornstein
This text discusses transformational grammar in relation to traditional and structural grammar, enabling the reader to relate the theory to what you already know about grammar. Although all important technical terms and processes are presented, non-technical language is used as much as possible.
Aspects of the Theory of Syntax - Noam Chomsky
The work in which Noam Chomsky first made known his controversial theories of language. The follow up to his primary work, Syntactic Structures, this work includes the introduction of such concepts as Deep Structure, Universal Grammar, and makes clear the relationship between grammar and meaning. The theory is now outdated and the writing style typical of Chomsky.
Syntactic Theory - Emmon Bach
Out of Print. Discusses the ways in which transformation grammar can be used to discover things about language. Dated.
A Derivational Approach to Syntactic Relations - Epstein, Groat, Kawashima and Kitahara
This text develops an hypothesis that reduces a range of empirical phenomena to a notion of pure derivation.  For some reason I have two copies of this text.
A-Morphous Morphology - Stephen Anderson
This text presents a theory of word structure which relates to a generative grammar of language. Surprisingly readable.

Historical/Comparative Linguistics

Historical and Comparative Linguistics - Raimo Anttila
Discusses genetic linguistics, historical linguistics, comparative linguistics, linguistic reconstruction and linguistics as part of anthropology.
Principles and Methods for Historical Linguistics - Robert Jeffers and Ilse Lehiste
Out of Print. This text presents a survey of methodological procedures and theoretical positions in the diachronic analysis of language.
The Rise and Fall of Languages - R.M.W. Dixon
Dixon presents his theory of punctuated equilibrium to describe how languages change. He challenges linguists to dedicate more time to the study and description of the thousands of languages on the verge of extinction, rather than devote their energies to arcane formalisms. The author is also highly critical of those historical linguists who claim to have found evidence for the "mother of all languages", accusing them of poor methodology. This book is not overly technical, and is thus suited for both a professional and a lay audience.
The Loom of Language - Frederick Bodmer
Although somewhat out of date, this book contains a lot of information on the ways European languages are connected. The section on artificial languages shows the influences of Bodmer's editor, Lancelot Hogben of Interglossa fame. The word lists in the appendix can, however, be very helpful for conlangers.
The Story of Language - Mario Pei
This Mario Pei's classic account of the structure of language, how it was formed and how it changed
The Story of Latin and the Romance Languages - Mario Pei
Out of Print. Discusses the origins, development and expansion of the Romance Family of languages.
A Living Language : The History and Structure of English - W.F. Bolton
Out of Print. This text takes English from its beginnings to the present day.  It begins with an overview of what we know about present-day English, returns to the European origins of the language, traces them as they developed first in England and later in America, and concludes with recent developments.

Linguistic Terminology

Key Concepts in Language and Linguistics - R.L. Trask
Neither a dictionary nor an encyclopedia, this text deals with key concepts that beginning linguists are likely to encounter. Key Concepts offers terms related to grammatical analysis, branches of linguistics, discourse analysis, varieties of language, related phenomena, and simple grammatical concepts such as adverb and noun.
A Dictionary of Grammatical Terms in Linguistics - R.L. Trask
This dictionary of grammatical terms covers both current and traditional terminology in syntax and morphology. It includes descriptive terms, the major theoretical concepts of the most influential grammatical frameworks, and the chief terms from mathematical and computational linguistics. It contains over 1500 entries, providing definitions and examples, pronunciations, the earliest sources of terms and suggestions for further reading, and recommendations about competing and conflicting usages.
A First Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics - David Crystal
This book appears to be out of print. This book gives detailed and exact definitions of the most important terms of linguistics and phonetics and particularly in the field of phonetics and phonology the book is an valuable source of information.
Guide to Grammar Terms - Richard Spears
Although confined to English grammar, this text presents an interesting and innovative approach to the complexities of grammar through the study of terminology.

Reference Grammars

The World's Major Languages - Bernard Comrie
A comprehensive reference work that provides detailed information about forty of the world's major languages. Written by acknowledged specialists in the field, the volume begins with a general introduction to language and language families, followed by language-family sections that provide an informative essay about that language, and individual chapters that discuss the history, distribution, syntax, grammar and punctuation, writing and spelling systems, standards of usage, and other important aspects of each language.  Another conlang must have.
The Dyirbal Language of North Queensland - R.M.W. Dixon
This text is out of print. This is a classic study of an ergative Australian language that had a significant influence on the development of my conlang amman iar.
A Grammar of Yidiny - R.M.W. Dixon
Out of Print. This was a difficult book to find. I searched for this book for over six months before discovering a copy in an obscure bookshop in Australia.  Better organized than his earlier work on Dyirbal, this is an excellent introduction to Australian languages.
The Handbook of Australian Languages : Volume 4 - R.M.W. Dixon and Barry Blake
The only volume of a set of five? that I own. This one covers the languages of Melbourne including Wotwurrung, Panyjima, Djabugay and Mbabaram.
Sanskrit Grammar - William Whitney
Originally published in 1875, this text is a classic.  It is most remarkable for its extremely well organized format and exhaustive treatment of the forms.
Turkish Grammar - Robert Underhill
Underhill organized the material in this text within the framework of transformational grammar. However, he carefully avoids the use of formal linguistic terminology. The text covers both written and colloquial Turkish.
The Classical Tibetan Language - Stephan Beyer
A Comprehensive description of the Tibetan language. Treats the classical language on its on terms rather than by means of descriptive categories appropriate to other languages.
Essentials of Modern Literary Tibetan - Gelek Rimpoche and Lobsang Phuntshog
This book describes the logic of Tibetan grammar and syntax through graded readings and narrative explanations. The large glossary, which is indexed by page, serves as an invaluable reference grammar.
The Swahili Language - E.N. Myachina
Out of Print. Part of the 'Languages of Asia and Africa' series. This text provides a general description of Swahili, dealing with the main structural characteristics and particularly the classification of the noun.
Swahili Grammar - E.O. Ashton
Out of Print. First published in 1944. I purchased this text while living in Kenya in the early '70s.  It was from this text that I learned Swahili.
A Comprehensive Welsh Grammar - David Thorne
Out of Print. This is a comprehensive guide to contemporary Welsh grammar. The book is divided into more than 400 sections which are further divided to take account of features which relate specifically to a particular register or dialect.
An Introduction to Elvish - Jim Allan
Dated, but historically important collection of essays dealing with the linguistics of JRRT's languages. This was the first such effort, but predated The Silmarillion and HoME series and thus reaches conclusions that have since been proven incorrect.
Norwegian Grammar - Bjarne Berulfsen
This little book doesn't even have an ISBN number. A concise description of the grammar. No good for learning the language, but a nice reference.
Egyptian Language - Sir E.A. Wallis Budge
This book was first published in 1889, and although thestate of the art has improved since, this text still provides a resource for untrained readers who are interested in ancient Egyptian writing. The book provides an introductory overview of how the hieroglyphic system relates to major categories of Egyptian grammar.


Standard English-Swahili Dictionary - Frederick Johnson
Standard Swahili-English Dictionary
Out of print. I acquired this pair of dictionaries while I was living in East Africa about 25 years ago. It served me well while learning the language and remains my primary reference for Swahili lexis.
English-Turkish Turkish-English Dictionary - Kemal Kilic
Out of Print. Standard Turkish-English dictionary. Includes irregular verb listings.
Standard Turkish Dictionary - Langenscheidt
Standard Turkish-English/English Turkish Dictionary from the Hippocrene Standard dictionary series.
Arabic : Arabic-English/English Arabic Standard Dictionary - John Wortabet and Harvey Porter
Standard Arabic-English/English Arabic dictionary from the Hippocrene Standard dictionary series.
Arabic-English Dictionary - J.M. Cowan
This is the Hans Wehr dictionary of modern written Arabic, considered by many to be the best available.  I do not believe this is the J. Cowan of 'The Lojban Reference Grammar' and conlang list fame.
A Dictionary of Japanese and English Idiomatic Equivalents - Charles Corwin
This book is an excellent introduction into the expresiveness of the Japanese language.  This "Dictionary" is not merely an alphabetical listing in dictionary style, but a collection of over 10,000 Japanese idiomatic words and phrases organized into over 200 "thought categories".
All-Romanized English-Japanese Dictionary - Hyujin Romaji Kai
A Japanese dictionary in a convenient form for those of us who have not yet mastered the use of characters and the kana syllabary.  Surprisingly comprehensive for its size.
Comprehensive English-Esperanto Dictionary - Peter Benson
Considered one of the best of those available, this dictionary includes many idioms and idiomatic expressions that go a long way toward earning the title 'Comprehensive'.
Gobeth En Lham Edhellen (Sindarin Dictionary) - Ryszard Derdzinski
I recently acquired this attractive copy, autographed by the author, of a Sindarin dictionary.  Despite the sparse documentation currently available about Sindarin, Ryszard has done an incredible job.  This text was privately published and is available from the author only.


The Search for the Perfect Language - Umberto Eco
The idea that there once existed a language which perfectly and unambiguously expressed the essence of all possible things and concepts has occupied the minds of philosophers, theologians, mystics, and others for at least two millennia. This book offers an investigation into the history of that idea and of its profound influence on European thought, culture, and history.
Lunatic Lovers of Language - Marina Yaguello
Although this text refers disparagingly to the language creation pastime, it nevertheless is a compelling read because Yaguello so often inadvertently describes we conlangers so well.
Natural Language Processing - Harry Tennant
Out of Print. Now out of date, this was my first introduction to the technology of natural language processing. It presents the aspects of language analysis, syntax, semantics, discourse and knowledge representation using a case study approach.
Everything that Linguists have Always Wanted to Know about Logic* - James McCawley
*but were ashamed to ask.
This book is an introduction to areas of logic relevant to the analysis of natural language. The range of topics covered is broad, including not only propositional logic, predicate logic and modal logic, but also presuppositional logic, many-valued and fuzzy logic, tense logic, et. al.