Areal Diffusion and Genetic Inheritance: Problems in Comparative Linguistics

Paperback | January 3, 2006

EditorAlexandra Y. Aikhenvald, R. M. W. Dixon

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Two languages can resemble each other in the categories, constructions, and types of meaning they use; and in the forms they employ to express these. Such resemblances may be the consequence of universal characteristics of language, of chance or coincidence, of the borrowing by one language ofanother's words, or of the diffusion of grammatical, phonetic, and phonological characteristics that takes place when languages come into contact. Languages sometimes show likeness because they have borrowed not from each other but from a third language. Languages that come from the same ancestormay have similar grammatical categories and meanings expressed by similar forms: such languages are said to be genetically affiliated. This book considers how and why forms and meanings of different languages at different times may resemble one another. Its editors and authors aim (a) to explain and identify the relationship between areal diffusion and the genetic development of languages, and (b) to discover the means ofdistinguishing what may cause one language to share the characteristics of another. The introduction outlines the issues that underlie these aims, introduces the chapters which follow, and comments on recurrent conclusions by the contributors. The problems are formidable and the pitfalls numerous:for example, several of the authors draw attention to the inadequacy of the family tree diagram as the main metaphor for language relationship. The authors range over Ancient Anatolia, Modern Anatolia, Australia, Amazonia, Oceania, Southeast and East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. The book includes an archaeologist's view on what material evidence offers to explain cultural and linguistic change, and a general discussion of which kinds oflinguistic feature can and cannot be borrowed. The chapters are accessibly-written and illustrated by twenty maps. The book will interest all students of the causes and consequences of language change and evolution.

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Two languages can resemble each other in the categories, constructions, and types of meaning they use; and in the forms they employ to express these. Such resemblances may be the consequence of universal characteristics of language, of chance or coincidence, of the borrowing by one language ofanother's words, or of the diffusion of gra...

Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald is Professor and Associate Director of the Research Centre for Linguistic Typology at La Trobe University. She has worked on descriptive and historical aspects of Berber languages and has published, in Russian, a grammar of modern Hebrew (1990). She is a major authority on languages of the Arawak family, from n...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:472 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 1.04 inPublished:January 3, 2006Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199283087

ISBN - 13:9780199283088

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Table of Contents

1. Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald and R. M. W. Dixon: Introduction2. Peter Bellwood: Archaeology and the Historical Determinants of Punctuation in Language-Family Origins3. Calvert Watkins: An Indo-European Linguistic Area and its Characteristics: Ancient Anatolia. Areal Diffusion as a Challenge to the Comparative Method?4. R. M. W. Dixon: The Australian Linguistic Area5. Alan Dench: Descent and Diffusion: The Complexity of the Pilbara Situation6. Malcolm Ross: Contact-Induced Change in Oceanic Languages in North-West Melanesia7. Alexandra Y. Aikhenvald: Areal Diffusion, Genetic Inheritance, and Problems of Subgrouping: A North Arawak Case Study8. Geoffrey Haig: Linguistic Diffusion in Present-Day East Anatolia: From Top to Bottom9. Randy J. LaPolla: The Role of Migration and Language Contact in the Development of the Sino-Tibetan Language Family10. N. J. Enfield: On Genetic and Areal Linguistics in Mainland South-East Asia: Parallel Polyfunctionality of 'Acquire'11. James A. Matisoff: Genetic Versus Contact Relationship: Prosodic Diffusibility in South-East Asian Languages12. Hilary Chappell: Language Contact and Areal Diffusion in Sinitic Languages13. Gerrit J. Dimmendaal: Areal Diffusion Versus Genetic Inheritance: An African Perspective14. Bernd Heine and Tania Kuteva: Convergence and Divergence in the Development of African Lanaguages15. Timothy Jowan Curnow: What Language Features can be 'Borrowed'?

Editorial Reviews

`... A book worth acquiring and reading.'Journal of Linguistics