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Wow. Just wow. What an amazing book. Mithun's writing is clear and lucid yet engaging and enlightening. I *want* a copy of this book. Who knew languages could be this varied? How can she possibly know so much about so many languages?! Must be required reading for those studying polysynthesis, even outside of North America (e.g. Coptic, etc.)
Although the subject matter might seem at first blush to be frivolous, even inconsequential to the average reader, I know of no achievement in the field of linguistics that can match this. What we learn beyond doubt from Marianne Mithun's magnum opus is that Native American minds matter. In this fascinating survey of the Languages of Native North America, the prepared and careful reader is guided to stunning vistas from which to peer into the cognition and communication of conquered worlds. Mith...
Astonishingly comprehensive, systematic, and clear. Incredibly informative about all the languages, insofar attested, of all of native north America (i.e. north of the Mexican-US border). Strongly recommended in particular if you want to learn more about how polysynthetic languages and similar features work.
Interlibrary loan only gave me 2 weeks to read this hefty tome. So I only got through 370 pages. It is nevertheless a very comprehensive description of the typological and genetic diversity of the languages of native North America. Emphasis is on unusual or linguistically interesting phenomena, especially structures which challenge current linguistic theory such as the absence of vowels in syllable nuclei and the apparent lack of a noun-verb distinction in some languages. The second half of the
I'm not a linguist, and this book is really dense. It is probably a fantastic option for an expert linguist, but it was a terrible thing that I had to slog through for a class. I did not get much out of it. I will not rate this book because I do not think I'm the correct target audience.
This book is amazing. The most comprehensive book on the subject I've found.