This book is amazing. The most comprehensive book on the subject I've found.Robert Murphy
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.)Joseph
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 book describes the language families and their languages, including the extent of documentation and the number of speakers.I would hesitate to recommend this book to anyone without any knowledge of linguistics, but for a linguist this book is a real treasure - there's really nothing else quite like it.