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Review of  Semitic and Indo-European

Reviewer: Robert Mailhammer
Book Title: Semitic and Indo-European
Book Author: Saul Levin
Publisher: John Benjamins
Linguistic Field(s): Applied Linguistics
Historical Linguistics
Language Family(ies): Indo-European
Issue Number: 15.1554

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Date: Thu, 13 May 2004 21:12:06 -0400
From: Robert Mailhammer
Subject: Semitic and Indo-European II

AUTHOR: Levin, Saul
TITLE: Semitic and Indo-European II
SUBTITLE: Comparative morphology, syntax and phonetics
SERIES: Current Issues in Linguistic Theory 226
PUBLISHER: John Benjamins
YEAR: 2002

Robert Mailhammer, University of Munich

Key to typographical symbols used:

?: glottal stop
!: pharyngeal counterpart of glottal stop
6: schwa (central vowel)
s,: emphatic sibilant
t': voiceless dental fricative
b': voiced bilabial fricative
d': voiced dental fricative
g': voiced velar fricative
s': voiceless palato-alveolar fricative
h': voiceless velar fricative
c^: voiceless palato-alveolar affricate
´,`,^: following a grapheme indicate stress,
^ above vowel grapheme denotes length
Akk.: Akkadian
Arbc.: Arabic
Gk.: Greek
Gmc. Germanic
H.: Hebrew
Hitt.: Hittite
L.: Latin
ModE: Modern English
OHG: Old High German
OE: Old English
Skt.: Sanskrit
All examples from languages with non-Latin alphabet are
reproduced in phonemic brackets (/.../) symbolising the
transcriptions in the book. Other examples and sounds
appear in underscores (_..._) symbolising italics.


''Semitic and Indo-European II'' is Saul Levin's second
monograph in a series of comparative studies of Indo-
European and Semitic languages. The first volume (1995)
focuses on lexical etymology and suggests numerous
correspondences between the two language families going
well beyond the proposals made in e.g. Moeller 1911 and
subsequent investigations. Although it is a complementary
database frequently referred to in the present book the
first volume is not essential for comprehension. ''Semitic
and Indo-European II'' concentrates on structural
comparisons between the two language families. Though
Levin does not rule out a common proto-language, this is
not a ''Nostratic book'' in the strict sense as it presents
a collection of proposed structural parallels on all
levels of grammar attributed to situations of language
contact at various times and under diverse circumstances.


''Semitic and Indo-European II'' is divided into eight
chapters starting with Chapter VI, as it is a continuation
of the first volume.

In Chapter VI the formal ''structure of roots and of
uninflected words'' is examined. Levin posits that lexical
roots in Semitic and Indo-European can be abstracted to
purely consonantal structures. Although this is quite
uncontroversial for Semitic languages, roots in Indo-
European are not usually seen that way. Although Levin (p.
6) mentions that the morphological system of Indo-European
''does not so readily lead to the positioning of
consonantal roots'', he uses consonantal roots for Indo-
European throughout the book and illustrates his view with
an example from Modern English: In _sing ^Ö sang ^Ö sung_
the vowel is subject to regular change as it fills an
empty slot in the consonantal root which therefore may be
spelt _s-ng_. This is very similar to the consonantal root
in e.g. Arbc. _k-t-b_ 'write', though English has only one
ablaut-slot. That this is an abstraction can be seen from
the fact that actual words in both languages cannot be
formed without the help of vocalic segments. The basic
unit, according to Levin (p. 16), is the biconsonantal
structure which sometimes occurs in a triconsonantal
manifestation. Both languages exhibit certain phonological
constraints in the combination of consonants. Moreover,
there is also a small number of roots that cannot be
reduced beyond a triconsonantal structure.

Additionally, Levin (p. 8) proposes a pattern for cognate
roots where one of the two consonants is weak, i.e. a
laryngeal or guttural segment: Accordingly, Semitic
usually retains this element, whereas it is lost in Indo-
European languages. The only exception is Germanic for
which a syllable-initial, pre-vocalic glottal stop can be
inferred from vocalic alliteration in Germanic verse. As a
result, Levin suggests that some Indo-European roots
consisting of a CV- or VC- sequence are originally
biconsonantal with the missing element being a weak
consonant. One of the many examples is Gmc. *ala- 'to
nourish' which is interpreted by Levin as a cognate of H.
/!ale/ - 'go up', thus positing a biconsonantal root for
Pre-Germanic. On the basis of comparative data Levin
argues against the inclusion of vowels in basic verbal
roots, as consonantal elements tend to be more stable.
Moreover, Levin (p. 31) posits that Indo-European CVCV-
roots are likely to be borrowings from Semitic
representing simplifications of consonantal clusters.
This is because Indo-European is more tolerant than
Semitic concerning consonantal onset clusters. The last
part of this chapter provides additional data from Afro-
Asiatic languages, which, according to Levin (p. 50ff),
further strengthens the case for biconsonantal roots as
basic units.

Chapter VII (''Stative Inflections'') is devoted to ''the
development of subsidiary morphemes to express a stative
relation between certain basic morphemes'' (p.58). The
first two sections deal with _e_ expressing a stative
function as part of a pronoun or as part of a verbal root.
Levin (p. 59) proposes that stative morphemes form a
''fairly extensive sub-system'' in both languages. In
pronouns _e_ shows up in the second person, e.g _te_,
which is found in this function chiefly as a prefix in
Akkadian, Hebrew and Arabic, or as a separate, preposed
word in Latin and Greek. An example for this with assumed
cognate verbs is L. _nôn tê pudet_ 'you (sg.) are not
ashamed' vs. H. /lo? t'eb'o´ws'iy/ 'you (fem. sg.) will
not be ashamed'. Generally, however, in Indo-European the
relevant pronouns are used in a much broader sense than in
Semitic and the stative use with an impersonal verb is
restricted to Latin, Greek and maybe Old English. The
distribution of _e_ as part of roots is similar to that of
pronouns: There are several proposed correspondences
between Semitic and Greek/Latin but only few include
Sanskrit, which, according to Levin, is mainly due to
phonological reasons as Sanskrit has a simplified vowel
system compared to the Indo-European parent language.
Although most posited cognate pairs involve triconsonantal
roots, there is also an example for a biconsonantal root,
the noun (or, in Hebrew a verb as well) 'seat', H.
/s'e´b'et'/ vs. Gk. /he´dos/. Additionally, Levin (p. 92-
101) assumes some stative function expressed by _o_ or _a_
between the first and second consonant of a root
exemplified by the Hebrew static verb /kos'6ro´h'/ 'it
(fem.) is proper/ok' vs. the Greek (Attic) adjective
/katharâ´/ 'pure/clean' (fem.). Moreover, some cases,
particularly from Indo-European languages are adduced from
which Levin construes a stative or passive meaning for

Chapter VIII (''Inflections of Active Verbs and Verbal
Nouns'') investigates the diverse correspondences between
Semitic and Indo-European in the inflections of active
verbs and verbal nouns. The first section, dealing with
athematic forms (i.e. where the ending directly follows
the root), finds only few possible cognate structures, one
of them involving the verbal roots for 'to come' in e.g.
H. /bo´?-/ and Gk. (non-Ionic) /ba^/. By contrast, it is
the thematic formation (i.e. where a variable vowel _e_ or
_o_ follows the root) which, in Levin's opinion, displays
the ''most fruitful correspondences'' (p. 110), particularly
where this construction is in statu nascendi. A recurrent
example for this proposition is the comparison of the
Indo-European thematic imperative, e.g. Gk. /phe´re/
'carry', to H. /p6re´h'/ 'bear fruit', the neatest match
in Levin's view. Since the thematic suffix seems to have a
wider distribution and more variants in Indo-European,
Levin (p.125) tentatively concludes that the thematic
suffix entered Hebrew and Akkadian from an Indo-European
source. Recalling the correspondences of the stative
element in the second person endings (_te_), the next
section investigates second person suffixes in general,
mostly involving the sequence _-tV-_. Although Levin
acknowledges that _t_ as part of second person morphemes
also occurs in numerous unrelated language families he
maintains that the correspondences put forward are due to
language contact.

One example for proposed cognates involving second person
endings is the comparison of the second person plural
endings in the perfect tense, e.g. Skt. _c^ac^ar-tha_ 'you
(sg.) have wandered' vs. H. /kora´t-to/ 'you (masc. sg.)
have cut' with an aspirate consonant in the Hebrew ending,
as Levin points out.

Moreover, according to Levin, the distinction of gender in
second person endings in Semitic sometimes corresponds to
a temporal differentiation in Indo-European: Arbc. /!alim-
ti/ 'you (fem sg.) know' and /!alim-ta/ 'you (masc. sg.)
know' vs. Hitt. _s'ak-ti_ 'you (sg.) know' (present) and
_s'ak-ta_ 'you (sg.) knew' (preterit).

The section on third person endings advances cognates
involving _-at(i)_ and _-Vn_ sequences, e.g. Skt. _a´jîv-
at_ 'lived' (3rd sg. imperfect) vs. Arbc. /Hayy-at/
'lived' (3rd sg. fem. perfect'. An analysis of the perfect
formation in both language families shows that the Indo-
European kind of reduplication is generally not found in
Semitic. However, Levin, posits a perfect prefix for Indo-
European, reconstructable from what has been seen as
anomalous reduplication in Sanskrit in e.g. _jabhâ´ra_
'has brought/borne' and a Germanic prefix _gV_ in e.g. OHG
_giboran_, corresponding to the Hebrew perfect prefix

This chapter is concluded by an investigation of agent
nouns exhibiting the vowel _o_ and generally feminine
action nouns which contains more lexical than structural
etymology. According to Levin (p.193), the match between
pre-classical Greek /(w)oikodo´moi/ and earliest Biblical
Hebrew /bo´neh'b'o´´yit'/, both 'house-builders'
illustrate the shared cultural experiences between both
language communities and points to close linguistic

The subject of Chapter IX (''Case-endings and Other
Suffixes of Nouns and Adjectives'') is shared case endings
and other nominal or adjectival suffixes. In this,
thematic endings denoting the accusative singular are
viewed as exhibiting the neatest congruence: Arbc. /t'awr-
an/ vs. Gk. /tau^r-on/, together with data from other
Semitic and Indo-European languages (e.g. L _taurum_ and
Akkad. _s'ûrnam_) point to an ending featuring the
sequence ''back- or central vowel + nasal sound'' (p.195)
which is widespread in Semitic and Indo-European. However,
Levin (p.198) notes that it is the vowel bearing the
distinctive function in the former and the consonant in
the latter language family. From the fact that the system
of cases and declension types in Indo-European is richer
and more diverse, Levin (p. 199) concludes that the
distinction of cases spread into Semitic from Indo-
European where it was subsequently adapted to the native
morphonological system.

However, Levin supposes that Semitic also influenced
certain groups among the Indo-European family. He (p.
254ff) adduces the Latin genitive singular, _taurî_,
_haedî_ (cf. Arbc. /t'awrin/), also the proposed source of
the suffix _-i-_ to express 'daughter/son of' found e.g.
in Gk. /telamô´nios/ 'son of Telamon'. Additionally, a
Semitic origin for the suffix _-isk-_ forming ethnic terms
and other adjectives, e.g. OE _Iudeisc_ or Gk.
/neâni´skos/ 'hypocoristic of /neâni´âs/ 'young man', as
well as the feminine suffix _-issa-_ in Gk. /basili´ssa/,
which then spread as far as Modern English (e.g.
_countess_), is advanced: As the source of the former
morpheme Levin (p.273) assumes Hebr. /?iys'/ 'man' and for
the latter Hebr. /?is's'o´h'/ 'woman'.

In addition to that, Levin compares the nominative case
endings and advances a hypothesis on the development of
the neuter gender in Indo-European: There is a certain
tendency for some neuter endings in Indo-European to
correspond to feminine endings in Semitic. In particular,
this holds true for words referring to young animals.
Levin concludes that the old differentiation of animate
vs. inanimate, still tangible in Hittite, was changed due
to the differentiation of the animate category in
masculine and feminine. This split, according to Levin,
originated in Semitic where it reflected the increased
importance of the female over the male animal to breeders
extending the classification by gender from livestock
nouns to nouns in general, and which subsequently spread
into Indo-European languages. This caused a major upheaval
in the grammatical system reflected in wavering
correspondences and gender assignments.

Chapter X (''Syntax'') examines the syntactical similarities
between Indo-European and Semitic in conjunction with the
morphological correspondences. This is because, as Levin
(p. 283) notes, agreements on the level of syntax alone
are ''open to the suspicion that it may be merely
typological ^Ö i.e. not due to common ancestry or
prehistoric contact''. Due to the typological difference in
word order, VX in Semitic and a tendency for XV in the
majority of the ancient Indo-European languages, both
language families exhibit clear divergences such as the
serialisation of noun plus adjective which is compulsory
N+Adj. in Semitic but free in Indo-European. Nevertheless,
the Celtic languages largely display the Semitic verb
order, a fact that Levin attributes to contact with
Semitic, wondering whether further parallels can be found.
Another suggested contact feature is the peculiar sequence
ART + NOUN + ART + attributive ADJECTIVE which is shared
between Greek and Hebrew. It is normal for Semitic but
limited to Greek on the Indo-European side where the more
frequent pattern ART ADJ NOUN is found in accordance with
the typological predictions of an XV language.
Moreover, Semitic and several Indo-European languages have
prepositions. From the fact that Hittite generally has
postpositions Levin infers that this represents the
original state of affairs which is supported by attested
postpositions in the older Indo-European languages like
Greek and Sanskrit. From this Levin (p. 317) concludes
that the prepositions of Greek Latin and the other Indo-
European languages evolved under Semitic influence.
The investigation of the rules for agreement in case and
gender yields much the same results for the two language
families, although without possible correspondences.

Chapter XI (''Corresponding Consonants'') constitutes an
integral part of this book as it deals with corresponding
consonants, hence providing a basis for the comparison of
linguistic material. The chapter is subdivided into
sections on consonants categorised according to the place
of articulation. The various relations are generally
illustrated with several examples from both language
families. Nonetheless, Levin specifically states that
''few, if any of them [the correspondences, R.M.] can be
securely traced back to an ancestral proto-language,
hypothetically called Nostratic''. As expected, the rule of
thumb is that those proposed cognates displaying the
neatest phonological matches are those with the shortest

One of Levin's results (p. 333) is that the liquid _r_
seems to be the most stable consonant in the comparisons
presented, i.e. across the language boundary it is the
least likely to be represented differently, which is
exemplified by Arbc. /qarnu/ vs. L _cornû_. Nonetheless,
there are several alternations, possibly occurring within
one language, e.g. _r_ vs. _n_ or _r_ vs. _l_, a fact that
introduces significant complications in proposed
correspondences. One example for this is the comparison of
the words denoting 'field' (acc. sg.): Indo-European shows
_r_, e.g. L _agrum_, where the postulated Semitic cognate
has _l_, e.g. Arbc. /Haqlan/. Additionally, the frequent
occurrences of metathesis add further complications to the
relations put forward. One example featuring a sound
substitution is Levin's proposed cognate pair of Arabic
_k-t-b_ 'write' (e.g. /yaktubu/ 'he writes', originally
'to sew together') and Gk. /gráphe/ 'write', OE _ceorfan_
'to carve' (p. 347-348). The Indo-European words are
explained as a Semitic loan including a drastic
simplification of the _kt_-cluster, which is disallowed by
Indo-European phonology, by the replacement of _t_ with
_r_. The section on plosives contains a vast collection of
proposed correspondences involving numerous phonemes of
which only a small selection can be presented here. One
hypothesis involves the distinction between ''satem'' and
''centum'' languages. Levin (p.351) posits that whenever
Semitic shows a fricative or affricate in a place where a
proposed cognate from a centum language has a plosive, the
Indo-European word is likely to be primary. The reason
given for this is that the satem variety developed
secondarily from the centum form in Indo-European,
according to Levin, which is deviant to the traditional
Indo-Europeanist view. Levin illustrates this with Hebr.
/!as,oro´h'/ (voiceless, emphatic sibilant) vs. Gk.
/agorâ´/, both 'assembly'. Other than that, plosives
sometimes find neater matches as e.g. in the well-known
etymology L cornû vs. Arbc. /qarnu/. In several places
Levin argues for the reconstruction of Indo-European
phonology involving glottalised plosives advanced by
Gamkrelidze & Ivanov (1995). One example is taken from the
section on velar and labio-velar consonants: Gk. /si´gloi/
is presumably borrowed from Hebrew /s'iqle´y/. Levin
suggests that the Hebrew _q_ goes back to a glottalised
plosive and thus would explain the Greek _g_ as a
borrowing at a time when _g_ was still a glottalised [k]
as posited by Gamkrelidze & Ivanov (1995). By contrast,
the Arabic _q_, according to Levin (p.359), did not have a
glottalised articulation being the source of IE _k_ in L.
_cornû_ and its widespread Indo-European cognates.
Several etymologies proposed by Levin presuppose a
relation between Indo-European _s_ and Semitic _t/t'_,
such as H. /s'eb'et'/ vs. Gk. /he´dos/. Levin (p.423)
argues that the fricative _t'_ could be a bridge between
Indo-European and Semitic in this aspect and concludes
that the data does not permit any clear judgement but
supports some ''overlapping'' (p. 428).

Additionally, in some cases, there are semantic
difficulties despite phonological matches, as in Hebr.
/ke´leb/ 'dog' and OE _cealf_ 'calf' (OHG kalb), further
complicated by OE _hwealp_ (ModE _whelp_) which leads
Levin (p. 371) to the assumption of a reciprocal process
of borrowing (p. 370-372). Furthermore, Levin (p. 383)
posits that Indo-European words containing /b/ may be
borrowings from Semitic as _b_, if it existed at all, was
definitely very rare in Indo-European. The section on
sibilants repeats the well-known loan etymology for the
Indo-European _seven_-word from Semitic and stresses its
cultural significance.

Chapter XII (''Vowels and Suprasegmental Sounds'') opens
with the observation that the vowel system of Greek is a
great deal closer to Hebrew than to Sanskrit. In the
following section Levin argues that this similarity can
only be the result of an intense contact situation and
cannot simply be a taken as a typological coincidence, in
particular when the correspondences described in the
preceding chapters are considered. In the section on
ablaut and accent Levin argues for the connection of the
Indo-European /e/-/o/ ablaut to accent which, according to
Levin, is particularly evident in Greek. Consequently, he
posits that /o/ resulted in ''intoned'' position in contrast
to /e/, which occurred in unstressed environment.
Following this claim is a rich collection of data taken
from Semitic, Greek, Avestan and Sanskrit. Additionally,
Levin tentatively suggests schwa as a possible minimal
vowel for Indo-European and concludes this chapter with a
section on metre which mainly finds correspondences
concerning octosyllabic meters and verse structures.

The final chapter (XIII, ''Epilogue: Echoes of Prehistoric
Life'') recapitulates some points considered particular
important by Levin, such as the significance of livestock
and the influence the two language families exerted on
each other in this semantic field, and presents some
additional thoughts. The book concludes with several
indices for the reader's convenience.


In this book Levin raises numerous controversial points,
only a small selection of which will be discussed here for
reasons of available space. From the existence of
postpositions in Hittite, Levin concludes that this
represents the original state of affairs and that the
Indo-European languages received their prepositions
through contact with Semitic languages. However, the non-
occurrence of prepositions in the Indo-European parent
language is common knowledge and included in the standard
handbooks, such as Tichy (2000:39), Meier-Brügger
(2000:258). Moreover, it is also to be expected according
to the typological predictions for an XV language (see
e.g. Lehmann 1974:15, Vennemann 2003a:333-336). Both
points are not mentioned by Levin. Additionally the
database, comprising only Sanskrit, Greek, Hittite, Latin
and Germanic on the Indo-European side, seems insufficient
to warrant his proposal. It would be interesting to see
how languages developed for which the contact with Semitic
is more difficult to posit. As a matter of fact, the
assumption that Germanic developed its prepositions
through contact with Semitic requires an additional
explanation of this proposed contact situation, which is
not given by Levin. As he (p. 317) notes the evolution of
prepositions must have occurred comparatively late, as
postpositions are attested at an early stage in most
languages reviewed by Levin and prepositions only spread
later on. Sanskrit, for example, has regular postpostions.
It seems particularly odd then that Hittite, despite
extremely close contact with Akkadian (p. 315 and Watkins
2001), kept its postpositions whereas other Indo-European
languages should have acquired their prepositions in
historical times for which the contact situation was not
as close or may have never existed at all. The occurrence
of prepositions in Celtic is only one of the numerous
syntactical features this language shares with Semitic
languages, alongside the position of the verb, all of
which have been known for some decades and which have been
attributed to contact phenomena (cf. Pokorny 1927-30,
Gensler 1993, Vennemann 2003a). It is difficult to
understand why Levin mentions nothing of this, thus
missing an opportunity for the investigation of structural

Another problematic position is the notion (chapter VI)
that roots in Indo-European are consonantal, just like in
Semitic. Although similar abstractions have been posited
by some Indo-Europeanists (see e.g. Pooth 2003) this is
doubtful because in an Indo-European root the vowel
carries lexical information. This can be inferred from the
fact that some Indo-European roots show the basic vowel
_a_ rather than the more frequent _e_ (see e.g. Kurylowicz
1956:187, Jasanoff 2003:3). By contrast, consonantal roots
presuppose that the vowel is irrelevant for the lexical
meaning of words based on such roots. Thus, the vowel is a
distinctive property and does not alternate according to
morphological function as in Semitic. Therefore, vowel
gradation in Indo-European does not have the same
mophological significance as in Semitic where it expresses
grammatical categories directly (see e.g. Lipinski
1997:358). In Indo-European vowel gradation is a
concomitant of particular types of stem formation, where
it generally is a recessive and redundant property (see
e.g. Kurylowicz 1961:13, Meier-Brügger 2000:135f, Tichy
2000:37). Additionally, it is often tied to word stress
(e.g. in the case of zero grade), a fact that Levin
himself notes in his section on ablaut. Nevertheless, it
is noteworthy that Levin's support for consonantal roots
comes from Modern English, a Germanic language, whose
verbal stem formation exhibits major typological
divergences from that of the Indo-European language family
due to the systematisation and functionalisation of ablaut
in the Germanic strong verbs (see e.g. Prokosch 1939:120,
Szemerényi 1980:86). As a matter of fact, the structural
correspondences as well as the striking and unique
typological proximity between Germanic and Semitic
concerning ablaut are neither analysed nor mentioned by
Levin although they have been pointed out before (e.g.
Kortlandt 1992:102) and language contact has been
suspected as the reason behind it (e.g. Stedje 1987,
Vennemann 1998).

Another problematic point is Levin's position of an Indo-
European perfect prefix is to a considerable extent based
on the existence of the prefix *_ga-_ in the Germanic past
participle. This assumption is clearly untenable as the
prefix *_gi/ga-_ did not go with the past participle in
Germanic times but was only used in the attested daughter
languages with varied regularity (e.g. de Boor &
Winsniewski 1985:121, Lehnert 1990:104). Additionally, the
perfect tense in Indo-European cannot simply be compared
to the perfective aspect of Semitic which clearly has an
aoristic quality. These three points are just some
examples for the major problems of the present volume: In
a large number of cases the data is insufficient to
support the often far-reaching conclusions drawn by Levin.
Moreover, several propositions are either disputed or
falsified outright once the actual data is examined more
closely, e.g. the position of an Indo-European perfect
prefix. This also holds true for many of the proposed
correspondences on the phonological/phonetic level, such
as the relation of IE _s_ vs. Semitic _t_, or the position
of a Proto-Semitic glottalised plosive _q_ (disputed in
Lipinski 1997) discussed in chapter XI. Moreover,
sometimes the argumentation is circular: The match of the
vowel systems of Hebrew and Sanskrit are taken as
indications of contact because of all the other
correspondences proposed. Numerous suggested contact
features are so unspecific that they hardly support
Levin's positions: _i_ in various combinations occurs as a
genitive marker in Indo-European, the occurrences in Latin
and Greek need not be the result of Semitic influence.

Furthermore, it is a considerable problem that Levin does
not present a historical background hypothesis providing a
basis for his proposals. This is all the more surprising
as such a theory, linking Germanic and Celtic to Semitic,
has been around for years (see e.g. collection in
Vennemann 2003b). Additionally, several etymologies or
other points suggested by Levin have been proposed
elsewhere which, however, frequently remains unmentioned:
The semantic problem of the _calf/dog_ word (chapter XI)
is addressed in Vennemann 1995, the _seven_-word has
recently also found acceptance in the Indo-Europeanist
literature as a Semitic loanword (see e.g. Rasmussen
1995), and the inference of a pre-vocalic glottal stop in
the Older Germanic languages from vocalic alliteration is
included in nearly every handbook on Old English (e.g.
Lehnert 1990:35).


''Semitic and Indo-European II'' is a vast collection of
data from Semitic as well as Indo-European languages
covering many aspects of grammar. Nevertheless, this book
suffers from numerous severe problems. Firstly, the
material presented is often incomplete, as significant
results from other studies or pertinent data are omitted.
Secondly, no comprehensive framework or theory is outlined
to account for the proposed contact phenomena, and
existing approaches are not considered. Thirdly, the
conclusions frequently are ad hoc and are not supported by
detailed analyses. The most substantial results may be
several individual etymologies and some correspondences on
the syntactic level which, however, are not investigated
with the necessary consistency and thoroughness. As a
result, large parts of ''Semitic and Indo-European II'' are
quite speculative, neither substantiated nor sufficiently
researched with the necessary depth. One does not have to
go as far as R. Schmitt (1996) in his review of the first
volume (Kratylos 41, 201-205), who says ''Die Zeit für die
Lektuere dieses Buchs ist vertane Zeit'' (Reading this book
is a waste of time). Nonetheless, ''Semitic and Indo-
European II'', just as the first volume, would have been of
much more benefit to the reader, if it were shorter,
concentrating on fewer, but more substantial cases and
incorporated the relevant literature.


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Robert Mailhammer is a Ph.D. candidate at the University
of Munich currently researching the morphological and
etymological situation of the Germanic strong verbs.