"More than 400 living and extinct languages are detailed in this information-packed reference. Each article covers the political, social, and historical background of the language by stating the number of speakers; the countries where it is spoken; how many dialects it spawned; its origins, characteristics, and examples of both words and the alphabet; and pronunciations. Anecdotes, literary quotations, and charts of script and numerals appear in sidebars to illustrate the cultures connected to the languages. This is an essential guide to the languages of the world."---"Outstanding reference sources 2000", American Libraries, May 2000. Comp. by the Reference Sources Committee, RUSA, ALA.