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Re: new book on Ainu

From:Marcus Smith <smithma@...>
Date:Tuesday, August 1, 2000, 2:46
Tom Wier wrote:

>Anyone know how this compares to the material in the Cambridge Linguistics >library book "The Languages of Japan" by Shibatani? I've been thinking of >getting that one...
The Ainu material in "The Language of Japan" is good for a concise overview of the language. Shibatani admits that he has never worked with the language, but derived the entire section of the book from material written by others -- can't hold that against him since the language is effectively dead. One very useful thing about it is that he discusses some of the features of the language in light of linguistic theory as it stood when it was written. For example, he gives interesting evidence against Baker's theory of applicatives as incorporated adpositions. Unfortunately, the entire description including genetic affiliation, phonology, morphology, and syntax amounts to around 80 pages. He aimed more for coverage than detail, so there are interesting quirks of the language that he doesn't cover. My own recommendation -- buy the book if you want a quick, light reference; but at least read a grammar devoted to the language. English translations aren't common, but they are out there. Marcus