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I Love Library Booksales

Posted on Friday, April 22, 2011 in Books

I have the good fortune to work in a major public library, and our booksales always have a linguistic treasure or two. This season’s booksale just finished, and I picked up two books on Swahili (one a dictionary, one a “Teach Yourself” title) and a dictionary of German synonyms.

At other booksales, I’ve picked up books on learning languages and, a number of years ago, one outlining all the similarities between Scandinavian languages and Native American ones (trying to “prove” that Eastern Native American languages were directly related to the Viking settlers of North America, if I remember correctly).

There have been some ones I’ve kicked myself for not buying. I’m thinking especially of last year when I saw a complete set of The Lord of the Rings in a Russian translation. Saw it lying on a table and thought, “Oh, I need to stop back around and pick that up.” By the time I came back, they were gone. I even remember looking through them a the time and thinking, “Ah, no translation of the Appendices.”

Oh, well, I can curl up with my German synonyms, and see how I can create some vocabulary. Sure, I could have used a Roget’s, but synonyms in another language than English seemed a more interesting way to go.

Anyone willing to share any finds they’ve come across at library booksales?

Bring on the comments

  1. Ember Nickel says:

    I found a book about Biological Underpinnings of Language or something that was being given away for free.

  2. Amanda says:

    At a Friends of the Library store (in the mall!) I once got both Spoken Fijian *and* A Grammar of Manam, but I haven’t used those nearly as much as the books I grabbed at the Alaska Native Heritage Center on my honeymoon (a tough choice from an embarrasment of riches: go with something in an Athabaskan dialect, or choose between Inuit and Aleut? I went with the Athabaskan.)

  3. Esploranto says:

    Wow, truly marvelous, I would love to hear more about that little jewel on the similarities between the Scandinavian languages and the Native American ones, it seems fascinating to me.

    We don’t have here what you call Library Booksales, but I think I can match that with my thorough searches in old bookstores and used bookstores. Once I found the very rare first edition, first translation of the Hobbit into Spanish. Also I found a dictionary of Russian synonyms in Russian. And also lots of books on Greek and Latin philology, and once I found a 1950’s big map of the Roman England with the names of all the cities and settlements in Latin.

    It’s interesting what one can find if you take the time to look for it, so… let’s all keep looking!

  4. The Conlanging Librarian says:

    Thanks for the comments!
    @EmberNickel: Free is *always* and attractive price 🙂
    @Amanda: I can imagine the tough choice. Personally, I would have gone with the Inuit, wait, the Athabaskan.. no, wait, the…
    @Esploranto: I just dug that book out and the title is “The Viking and the Red Man: The Old Norse Origin of the Algonquin Language” by Reider T. Sherwin (copyright 1940.. it’s a first edition). Here’s the link to WorldCat: I think Sherwin may be pushing the envelope on his theory (to say the least), but his book provides a nice vocabulary of Native American and Old Norse words.

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