Cover of Indo-European and Its Closest Relatives by Joseph H. Greenberg
Indo-European and Its Closest Relatives
The Eurasiatic Language Family, Volume 2, Lexicon
Joseph H. Greenberg

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2002
232 pages.
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Cloth ISBN: 9780804746243

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The basic thesis of this two-volume work (Volume I. Grammar was published in 2000) is that the well known and extensively studied Indo-European family of languages is but a branch of a much larger Eurasiatic family that extends from Europe across northern Asia to North America. Eurasiatic is seen to consist of Indo-European, Uralic-Yukaghir, Altaic (Turkic, Mongolian, and Tungus-Manchu), Japanese-Korean-Ainu (possibly a distinct subgroup of Eurasiatic), Gilyak, Chukotian, and Eskimo-Aleut. The author asserts that the evidence presented in the two volumes for the validity of Eurasiatic as a single linguistic family confirms his hypothesis since the numerous and interlocking resemblances he finds among the various subgroups can only reasonably be explained by descent from a common ancestor.

The present volume provides lexical evidence for the validity of Eurasiatic as a linguistic stock. Since some of the relevant etymological material has already been published in the work of some Nostraticists, this volume emphasizes those etymologies involving Ainu, Gilyak, Chukotian, and Eskimo-Aleut, languages generally omitted from Nostratic studies. The Eurasiatic family is itself most closely related to the Amerind family, with which it shares numerous roots. The Eurasiatic-Amerind family represents a relatively recent expansion (circa 15,000 BP) into territory opened up by the melting of the Arctic ice cap. Eurasiatic-Amerind stands apart from the other families of the Old World, among which the differences are much greater and represent deeper chronological groupings.

The volume includes a classification of Eurasiatic languages, references cited, and semantic and phonetic indexes.

About the author

The late Joseph H. Greenberg was Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at Stanford University. Among his many books over a fifty-year career is On Language: Selected Writings of Joseph H. Greenberg (Stanford, 1990)

“This last (and posthumous) work of the 20th century’s greatest anthropological linguist is fundamental to the cross-disciplinary conversation among linguists, archaeologists, and geneticists. As a lexicon comparing a unique set of languages, it is also a reference book that scholars will want to refer to.”—Carol F. Justus, University of Texas at Austin