For some time I had wanted a book like this. I actually wanted something from which to understand etymology, but this book gives the idea and the internet (for example Wikipedia) has decent information on etymological systems. The book of Buck was first printed in 1949 and had over 1500 pages. This large (11×8.5 inches) book is a ‘four pages on one page’ reprint. Strange, small letters and I had to get used to it, but it doesn’t really matter. After an introduction, a long list with abbreviations, explanations and bibliographical references, the book proves to be divided in subjects. You get for example word falling under “mankind: sex, age, family relationships”, “food and drink” or “dwelling, house, furniture” (fortunately there is an index too). Of course most sections are not of great interest to me, but there are also sections about “mind, thought” or “religion and superstition”. Besides, opening the book on any page, reading the about 30 synonyms (that means, a word in 30 languages) and the explanation by the writer, gives nice surprises. Buck gives meaningfull commentaries, refering to proto Indo-European or reconstructed words (marked with an asterisk and in italics) if necessary. The book is rather expensive, but worth the money. I don’t know if this is the ultimate book on Indo-European languages, since I don’t have comparisons, but it already proved very handy for looking things up, ‘learning randomly’ and surprises.
A Dictionary Of Selected Synonyms In The Principal Indo-European Languages * Carl Darling Buck (1949/1988 the university of chicago press * isbn 0226079376)
- 06 June 2007