Lifelong Dewey

Reading through every Dewey Decimal section.

Category: 400s

478: Learn Latin by Peter Jones

DDC_478

478.2421: Jones, Peter. Learn Latin: A Lively Introduction to Reading the Language. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1997. 169 pp. ISBN 0-7607-0842-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 470: Italic and Latin languages
  • 478: Classical Latin usage
  • 478.2: Structural approach to the classical Latin usage
  • 478.24: For persons whose native language is different
  • +21: For persons whose native language is English

Latin is by default an odd language. No speaks it anymore, but knowing it is considered a sign of erudition, and the countless books for learning Latin out there speak to a demand for learning the language. One of the many problems with Latin is that it is incredibly compact and nuanced. Changing the order of the words, the endings of verbs, or even missing a single letter changes the entire meaning of what is being said. Peter Jones’s Learn Latin is a rather interesting approach to learning the language that deserves a closer look.

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475: Essentials of Latin Grammar by W. Michael Wilson

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475: Wilson, W. Michael. Essentials of Latin Grammar: A Practical Guide to the Mastery of Latin. Lincolnwood, IL: Passport Books, 1995. 119 pp. ISBN 0844285404.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 470: Italic and Latin languages
  • 475: Grammar and syntax of classical Latin

If you really want to get down to the nuts and bolts, the nitty-gritty, and the no-nonsense study of Latin, then this one is the way to go. W. Michael Wilson’s Essentials of Latin Grammar takes a spectacular page from Strunk and White’s Elements of Style and omits needless words almost to a fault. There is a two-page preface and then it’s off to the races. One hundred forty-one rules later, you should emerge with a head full of Latin.

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409: Philology by James Turner

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409: Turner, James. Philology: The Forgotten Origins of the Modern Humanities. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2014. 386 pp. ISBN 978-0-691-14564-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 409: Historical, geographical, or personal treatment of language

In Philology, James Turner makes a fun and rather interesting assertion: all studies in the humanities lead back to philology, the study of languages and their history. In order to engage in the studia humanitatis, you need history. In order to read history in its proper context, you have to read it in its original language. For that you need an understanding of languages, their structure and their history, hence philology. To understand art and architecture requires context, and the urge to understand it as its contemporaries did. This requires chronicles, journals, letters, and yes, philology. Turner traces the grand study of philology through history to show its roots and how it can be again reborn as a proper tool for understanding both our current circumstances and our collective history.

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494: Passions of the Tongue by Sumathi Ramaswamy

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494.8110954: Ramaswamy, Sumathi. Passions of the Tongue: Language Devotion in Tamil India, 1891-1970. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997. 258 pp. ISBN 0-520-20804-8.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Languages
  • 490: Other languages
  • 494: Altaic, Uralic, Hyperborean, and Dravidian languages
  • 494.8: Dravidian languages
  • 494.81: South Dravidian languages
  • 494.811: Tamil
  • +0954: South Asia/India

In the 1960s, men began to sacrifice themselves in the name of the Tamil language. Steadfastness to the Tamil language by inhabitants of Southern India was tantamount to a religion. But what lead to these beliefs? And what can be learned from both history and language when we view through the lens of language devotion? Sumathi Ramaswamy, in Passions of the Tongue, proposes a very new and interesting kind of linguistic study, and along the way, shows how both a people and a language evolved.

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465: The Evolution of Spanish by Tom Lathrop

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465: Lathrop, Thomas A. The Evolution of Spanish. Newark, DE: Juan de la Cuesta, 1996. 194 pp. ISBN 0-936388-58-7.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 460: Spanish and Portuguese languages
  • 465: Grammar and syntax of standard Spanish

One of the more interesting parts of a language is how individual words form over the years. In English, some words were formed from the fusing together of two existing words or from the spontaneous creation of a word that fills a gap in our collective description. Most of the time, however, words just evolve. Starting with one spelling and meaning, they slowly morph into new forms and new contexts. The same process happens in nearly every language in the world. Thomas Lathrop’s Evolution of Spanish is a look into the roots of the language, and from these roots, he hopes new understanding can grow.

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440: The Story of French by Nadeau and Barlow

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440.9: Nadeau, Jean-Benoit and Julie Barlow. The Story of French. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2006. 450 p. ISBN 0-312-34183-0.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Languages
  • 440: French and Romance languages
  • 440.9: General history of French and Romance languages

Currently, French is in the top twenty spoken languages in the world. In the Middle Ages, it was the gateway to the aristocratic lifestyle and the lingua franca of the Western world. While it has been eschewed to the milieu of wine drinkers, film buffs, and expatriates, French is still as dynamic and contentious as it has ever been. There is even a group of people—the Academie Francaise—that presides over the language and sets the guidelines on new words and phrases that enter. Jean-Benoit Nadeau and Julie Barlow, in The Story of French, try to do what many other linguists have done before them: make the early history and morphology of a language interesting and relevant to modern readers.

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419: Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language by Scott Liddell

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419.705: Liddell, Scott K. Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2003. 362 pp. ISBN 0-521-81620-3

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 400: Language
  • 410: Linguistics
  • 419: Sign Languages
  • 419.7: American Sign Language
  • 419.705: Grammar and syntax of ASL

Until the 1950s, the signing language that deaf Americans used to communicate with each other was even considered a real language at all. William Stokoe, teaching at Gallaudet University (a school for the deaf), after taking a crash course in signing and watching his students, came to realize that was a full-fledged language. There are a finite number of hand shape, but when combined with position, motion, and facial expression, users can communicate an almost infinite variety of words and concepts. Scott Liddell’s Grammar, Gesture, and Meaning in American Sign Language is a veritable crash for us all and a window into a world seldom explored until absolutely necessary.

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