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Cornell University

Linguistics and Language: A Research Guide: Dictionaries
& Encylopedias

This is an extensive, annotated list of the print and online resources available for research in linguistics. Click on the TABS to access each Section in this guide.

Linguistics Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics. Keith Brown, editor-in-chief. 2nd ed. Boston: Elsevier, 2006.
An updated edition of R. E. Asher's comprehensive and up-to-date encyclopedia in linguistics and related subject areas, published in 1994 (Olin Reference P 29 .E56 +). Broad in scope, so that interdisciplinary aspects of linguistics and language studies are covered as well as various areas of linguistics. Global communication and writing systems are included, as well as extensive biographies/bibliographies of linguists. Signed articles include authoritative bibliographies.


Coulmas, Florian. Blackwell Encyclopedia of Writing Systems. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996.
(Online; print version: Olin Reference Z 40 .C67x 1995)
"The principal purpose of this encyclopedia is to provide basic concise information on the writing systems, scripts and orthographies of the world's major languages" (Preface). A thorough, well-presented work with excellent tables and illustrations. There are numerous cross-references which pull the work together, since it consists of many short articles rather than comprehensive treatments. Most articles have brief bibliographies and there is an extensive bibliography at the end of the work. Highly useful for overviews of every imaginable script from Cherokee to Maldivian (not to be confused with Old Maldivian) and such oddities as the finger alphabet and quipu. See also the less inclusive Handbook of Scripts and Alphabets (Olin Reference P 211 .C25x).


Crystal, David. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. 5th ed. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2003.
(Olin Reference P 29 .C65 2003)
A tool aimed to assist graduate and undergraduate students encountering the terminology of linguistics and phonetics. Written in technical language using extensive cross-references. No bibliography or reading list.


Crystal, David. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of Language. 2nd ed. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997.
(Olin Reference P 29 .C95 C2+)
This illustrated one-volume encyclopedia presents the major themes in language study. A glossary and index provide excellent access to the many articles. Excellent maps, plates, photographs and charts. A bibliography is appended.


Encyclopedia of Applied Linguistics. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012- .
(Online only)
Updated twice yearly. Combines individual entries ranging from 1,500 to 4,000 words, with longer, essay-style contributions giving a detailed overview of key developments and ideas. Covers 31 key areas of the field, including Language teaching and learning, Bilingual education, Language policy and planning, Assessment and evaluation, Corpus linguistics, Discourse and conversation analysis, the Neurobiology of language, Literacy, and technology and language.


Encyclopedia of Indo-European Culture. J.P. Mallory and D.Q. Adams, editors. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1997.
(Olin Library Reference CB 201 .E53 1997; Graduate Study Room 501 (Request at Circulation) CB 201 .E53x 1997)
Over 700 entries provide inclusive coverage of the major Indo-European language stocks and their origins, and the conceptual range of the reconstructed Proto-Indo-European language. The encyclopedia also offers entries on selected archaeological cultures having some relationship to the origin and dispersal of Indo-European groups, and on some of the major issues of Indo-European cultural studies.


Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Phillipp Strazny, editor. 2 vols. New York: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2005.
(Olin Reference P 29 .E483 2005)
Written with the non-specialist in mind, entries are arranged alphabetically and conclude with a brief bibliography. Includes languages, language families, concepts and extensive biographical entries.


Glossary of Linguistics. Eugene E. Loos (general editor). SIL International.
A handy list of definitions for linguistics terms. Example: the definition of phonology from the Glossary of Linguistics.


International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction. Malden, MA: Wiley, 2015.
(Online only)
A multi-disciplinary subject encyclopedia with crossover coverage of linguistics and discourse studies, and with psychology, sociology and business. Published as a regularly updated online edition.


International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. 2nd ed. 4 volumes. William J. Frawley, editor. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.
(Online; print version: Olin Reference P 29 .I61 2003 +)
Articles by some 400 scholarly linguists describe concisely many linguistic sub-specialties and concepts. A useful feature is the large number of articles on specific languages or language families, from Akkadian to Zapotec. (Zulu is treated under African languages.) Articles are arranged alphabetically, but appendixes group subjects into topic areas and languages into families. A glossary defines terms; cross references and an index direct the reader to the right article. Numerous bibliographies and some excellent illustrations are provided. As the preface indicates, the work is intended for experts, and some articles are quite technical.... [Library Journal review]


The Linguistics Encyclopedia. Kirsten Malmkjær, editor. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2002.
(Olin Reference P 29 .L52 2002)
Entries are alphabetically arranged, extensively cross-referenced, and include suggestions for further reading. They cover over 150 major and subsidiary fields of linguistic study. Key terms and topics are defined and discussed in context, emphasized in bold type. The scope is broad: physical and mental processes connected with language, its social and cultural role and the contribution its study can make to related disciplines and professions, theory and practice of language study, and diverse approaches to language description, analysis, and interpretation.


Oxford Handbooks Online (OHO). New York: Oxford University Press.

Scholarly research reviews in article format from the extensive collection of Oxford Handbooks covering linguistics.


Trask, R. L. (Robert Lawrence). A Dictionary of Phonetics and Phonology. New York: Routledge, 1996.
(Olin Reference P 216 .T73x 1996)
"Covers of 2,000 terms. A comprehensive yet concise guide to an enormous number of individual terms and an explanation of the most important theorectical approaches to phonology. [from the cover]

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