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Subject guides: Comparative Philology

Comparative Philology

Printed collections in UCL Library Services are described below. There is also information about:

Printed collections

The Comparative Philology collection is housed in the Donaldson reading room in the Main Library, in the second bay on your right as you enter the room. Comparative Philology quartos are shelved in the first bay on your right. See separate pages for maps and opening hours.

Book collections

The Comparative Philology collection is broadly arranged in the following subject sections:

  • A: General
  • B: Indo-European languages
  • C: Ural-Altaic languages
  • D: Asianic and Middle-Eastern languages (non-Semitic)
  • E: Afro-Asiatic languages (Hamito-Semitic)
  • F: African languages (non-Semitic)
  • G: Basque and the ancient languages of the Iberian peninsula
  • H: Caucasian languages
  • K: Dravidian languages
  • L: Languages of Eastern Asia
  • M: Malayo-Polynesian and Papuan languages
  • N: Australian languages
  • P: American languages
  • R: Paleo-Asiatic and Eskimo-Aleut languages

UCL Library Services has its own classification scheme for arranging books on the shelves; a typical classmark for an open-access book will consist of the name of a subject (indictaing a section of the library) followed by letters and numbers denoting its classified position on the shelves in that section. For the Comparative Philology collection, every language has a letter indicating its group or family (for example B = Indo-European) and a number (e.g. B 23 =Armenian.) The numbers can be used in two ways: with or without a colon subdivision. The number is used without subdivision for general works concerning a language, while subdivisions are used when a particular aspect is emphasised. The subdivisions are these:

  • : 1 history, archaeology
  • : 2 dictionaries, etymological treatises
  • : 3 phonology
  • : 4 grammars
  • : 5 monographs on aspects of grammar
  • : 6 the study of names
  • : 7 semantical treatises
  • : 8 texts
  • : 9 religion

For example:

  • COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY B 23:2 = dictionaries of Armenian
  • COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY B 23:4 = grammars of Armenian
  • COMPARATIVE PHILOLOGY C 12 = a general outline of Altaic languages

The full classification scheme for Comparative Philology is available for reference at the Main Library Enquiry Desk on the first floor.

A classmark found on the catalogue and beginning with the words STORE or with a number - e.g. 98-15234 - refers to a work housed away from the Main Library. For these works you will need to fill in the online Store Request Form. Store items will be available for collection from the Stores Desk on the ground floor of the Science Library (DMS Watson Builiding) by 3pm the next working day.

Some of the other main sections of UCL Library Services in which you may be interested are:

PHONETICS & LINGUISTICS (Main Library, Donaldson reading room): books and periodicals supporting the theory and practice of language study.

ANTHROPOLOGY (2nd Floor, Science Library, DMS Watson Building): section F is dedicated to anthropological linguistics.

GEOGRAPHY (1st Floor, Science Library, DMS Watson Building): section H 30 is dedicated to linguistic geography.

Individual language collections are all located in the North Corridor of the Main Library except Celtic and Dutch which are situated on the 2nd Floor of the Main Library beyond the History collection, and Hebrew and Yiddish which are on the 2nd Floor, North Corridor. They are:


Section B is dedicated to language in all these collections with the following exceptions:

  • Dutch - Section H 32.2
  • Hebrew - Section P
  • Ancient Greek - Section GB of the Classics collection
  • Latin - Section LB of the Classics collection


Periodicals relevant to Comparative Philology can be found in the following collections:

  • LINGUISTICS PERIODICALS - Donaldson reading room
  • HUMANITIES PERIODICALS - 2nd Floor of the Main Library beyond the Hebrew & Jewish Studies collection
  • CLASSICS PERIODICALS - Main Library, North Corridor
  • Periodicals of the individual language collections

For electronic journals, see below.

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Electronic collections

The two primary types of electronic resources available are:

  • tools for carrying out literature searches, such as bibliographic databases (indexes and abstracts) which help you to find book titles and articles in periodicals
  • full-text resources, such as electronic journals

Material in electronic form is available to registered members of UCL. To access these resources, users are advised to navigate to material using the links from the Library Services website. Off-site users will be prompted for their UCL user ID and password. For more information about this visit Information for electronic Library resource users.


Among the bibliographic databases offered by the Library are:

There are many other databases that may be useful to you. Click here for a complete list of databases available at UCL.

Electronic journals

A range of electronic versions of journal titles is available. Start from the list of e-journals on the Library's web pages. Here you will find details of access arrangements for each title.

Be aware that most electronic holdings of journals do not go back more than a few years. However, older electronic versions of some journals can be accessed via JSTOR, an archive storing long back runs of selected journals in electronic form, e.g. Modern Philology 1903 - 1998.

Other Web resources

Internet resources of academic quality can be accessed using subject gateways or directories. These gateways are often compiled by subject specialists and can therefore provide a quick and reliable way of finding material of academic quality on the Web.

Gateways which you may find useful include:

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Other libraries

All registered students of UCL are entitled to obtain a borrowing card for the Senate House Library, which specialises in the Humanities and houses collection dedicated to Archaeology and Manuscript Studies.

Reference access to other University of London libraries is available for UCL registered students.

There are several online catalogues to help you locate material not held by UCL, inlcuding:

  • COPAC: an online catalogue with records of the holdings of 26 of the top research libraries in the UK. You can obtain books and articles found on COPAC via inter-library loan, at a charge of £3 per item.
  • The Union List of Serials: a catalogue of periodicals holdings in academic libraries in the London area.

Further information is available about the use of other libraries and about inter-library loans.

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Contact details

If you have any problems in using the Library, come to the Enquiry Desk, or ask for the subject librarian for Comparative Philology:

Robert Kirby
E-mail r.kirby@ucl.ac.uk
Telephone: internal: 27485; external: 020 7679 7485

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Last modified 9 June 2006

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