Bethwyn Evans Australian National University
Recovering linguistic prehistory in the Solomon Islands: the use of complementary methods (abstract)
|Nicholas Evans, Dagmar Jung and Kate Brown University
Was that you or me? Typologies of non-iconicity and the reconstruction of subject/object paradigms (abstract)
Anthony Grant, Edge Hill College
Ian Green, University of Tasmania
Sheldon P. Harrison, University of Western Australia
Dianne Jonas, Yale University
The loss of verb raising: A case study in syntactic variation and change (abstract)
Ritsuko Kikusawa, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Distinguishing Direct Inheritance from Indirect Inheritance and Drift: A Case of Syntactic Reconstruction in Austronesian Languages (abstract)
Harold Koch, Australian National University
Top-down vs. bottom-up approaches to linguistic reconstruction and classification (abstract)
Harold Koch and Luise Hercus, Australian National University
Luisa Miceli, Australian National University
What does "genetic relationship" mean? (abstract)
| Anthony Naro, Federal University, Rio de Janeiro
Genetic versus Contact Relationships: the Origins of Brazilian Portuguese (abstract)
| Andrew Pawley, Australian National University
Experiments in the top-down and bottom-up reconstruction in the Trans New Guinea family (abstract)
| Erich Round, University of Melbourne
Against a simplistic frequency-based analysis: the role of phonological structure in the diachronic reduction of function words (abstract)
Paul Sidwell, Australian National University
Return to an etymological method: explaining typological change in the history of the Chamic languages (abstract)
|Matthew Toulmin, Australian National University
Complementary linguistic and sociolinguistic methods for establishing chronology of innovations (abstract)
| Ghil`ad Zuckermann, University of Cambridge
The genetics of the Israeli language: revival, relexification or hybridization? (abstract)
Recovering linguistic prehistory in the Solomon
Islands: the use of complementary methods
Australian National University
Oceania is a region where both traditional and innovative methods of historical linguistics have proven to be useful in recovering linguistic and sociolinguistic prehistory. While the prehistory of some groups of languages in the Pacific can be fittingly explained within the family tree model of language diversification, a model that also includes convergence is needed to explain the prehistory of other groups. This paper takes two subgroups of the Oceanic family, namely Northwest Solomonic and Southeast Solomonic, and shows how the complementary use of different methods of historical linguistics can lead to a more detailed prehistory of the region than would the use of a single method.
The Southeast Solomonic languages form a clearly defined subgroup within Oceanic, and their internal diversification can be modelled as a family tree with each branch defined by exclusively shared phonological innovations (see Tryon & Hackman 1983, Lichtenberk 1988). The Northwest Solomonic languages also form a subgroup defined by a set of phonological innovations, but the diversification of Proto Northwest Solomonic is more fittingly modelled within historical dialectology and linkages of shared phonological and morphosyntactic innovations (see Ross 1988, 1997).
While the boundary between the Southeast Solomonic and the Northwest Solomonic languages is clearly defined by phonological innovations, there are in fact lexical and grammatical innovations that are shared across the two groups. A number of these innovations are examined, and it is suggested that the consideration of language contact will lead to further insights into the linguistic prehistory of the region.
Lichtenberk, Frantisek 1988 'The Cristobal-Malaitan subgroup
of Southeast Solomonic' Oceanic Linguistics 27 (1 & 2): 24-62.
Ross, Malcolm 1997 'Social networks and kinds of speech-community event', in Roger Blench and Matthew Spriggs (eds.) Archaeology and
Language I. Theoretical and methodological orientations. London: Routledge, pp: 209-261.
Ross, Malcolm 1988 Proto Oceanic and the Austronesian Languages of Western Melanesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics
Tryon, D.T. and B.D. Hackman (1983) Solomon Islands Languages: an internal classification. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics.
Was that you or me? Typologies of non-iconicity
and the reconstruction of subject/object paradigms
Nicholas Evans, Dagmar Jung and Kate Brown
University of Melbourne
Though the use of typology in historical reconstruction is well-known in some areas, such as the architecture of phoneme inventories or the ordering of linked word-order changes, in this paper we apply it to a problem that is less familiar: the reconstruction of double-agreement paradigms (e.g. subject and object), and in particular the tackling of what we will call Heath's problem, after two seminal articles of his (Heath 1991, 1998): the fact that in many languages in which subject and object are represented by contiguous affixes, those parts of the paradigm representing the collision of speech act participants (e.g. I > you, you > me) often exhibit 'interaction effects': instead of the segmentable forms found in most parts of the paradigm, for these values one finds a variety of non-iconic devices, such as the omission of one argument, the coercion of other person forms, or the use of portmanteaux.
Typology, combined with other methods of morphological reconstruction (see Koch 1997) can assist in the reconstruction of such double-agreement paradigms by seeing method in the seeming madness of these irregular forms. We report preliminary results from a project examining the typology of interaction disguises in three distinct geographical zones where it is found (Australia, Papua New Guinea, and North/Central America), and show how it can (sometimes!) assist in the reconstruction of paradigms for several families that we take as case studies, with a focus on the Iwaidjan and Gunwinyguan families of northern Australia.
Heath, Jeffrey. 1991. Pragmatic disguise in pronominal-affix
paradigms. In Frans Plank (ed.), Paradigms: the Economy of Inflection.
Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter. Pp. 75-89.
Heath, Jeffrey. 1998. Pragmatic skewing in 1 <-> 2 pronominal combinations in Native American languages. International Journal of American Linguistics 64.2:83-104.
Koch, Harold. 1996. Reconstruction in Morphology. In Mark Durie and Malcom Ross (eds.), The comparative method reviewed. Regularity and irregularity in Language Change. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 218-262.
Upstreaming Swadesh: making the most of qualitative
Edge Hill College
Lexicostatistical techniques have been 'discovered' separately on several occasions, as have optimal implementations of such techniques. This is especially true of the stronger, more qualitative approaches, which are character-oriented (in the biological cladistic sense), which contend with the actual data and which permit the recognition and mapping of exclusively shared innovations. Some of this work, such as Bruce Hooley's 1971 classification of Austronesian languages of Madang province, Papua New Guinea, or David Zorc's 1978 paper on functor analysis in Philippine and Australian languages, and his 1974 analysis of lexical strata in the Philippine language Kagayanen, has been done by linguists with Australian connections. In my paper I discuss such an approach which I applied to Caddo data in an attempt to see where it fits within the North American Caddoan family, in the light of Douglas Parks' 1979 lexicostatistical study of Northern Caddoan. I discuss questions of lexical and structural morphemic stratification along diachronic lines, noting their often differing retention rates, and present a modified list of contentives and of functional concepts that may usefully be employed (with due modification) for more illuminating investigation of the histories and relationships of many languages.
Morphological evidence for genetic relatedness: a Southern
University of Tasmania
Green (2003) seeks to establish the close genetic relatedness of two northern Australian languages, Murrinh-patha and Ngan'gityemerri, now referred to as making up the 'Southern Daly' family.
The case is made on the basis of shared similarities in inflecting verbs, complex morphological sequences with a range of core participant person-number, tense-aspect-mood and verb classifying functions. Green demonstrates that similarities in form and structure, both regular and suppletive, provide for a principled reconstruction of inflecting classifier verb paradigms in a common parent language, arguing that indeed the hypothesis of a common parent provides the only tenable account of the shared features.
The case is made without any real support from purely lexical correspondences. The cognate density is low (less than 10%), and the putative correspondence sets raised by the lexical data are restricted in scope, and prove relatively uninformative to the reconstruction.
Reviewing pertinent aspects of the Southern Daly evidence, this paper then seeks to build a methodology for morphological reconstruction in this context, by identifying explicitly the assumptions as to (1) the nature of, and limitations on, morphological diffusion that are critical to the claim for genetic relatedness, and (2) the ways morphological complexes such as these do, and do not, change over time.
Green, Ian 2003. The genetic status of Murrinh-patha. In Nicholas Evans (ed), The non-Pama-Nyungan languages of northern Australia: comparative studies of the continent's most linguistically complex region. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics, pp280-310.
Using Linguistic Evidence in Relative Text
Dating: Case Studies from the Debate on Dating the Biblical Hebrew Corpus
University of Western Australia
In what might be termed the normal use of text in historical linguistics, linguists use texts of whose dates they are reasonably certain as a source of data on linguistic change. It is far less common for historical linguists to try to use observed linguistic differences between (sets of) texts whose dates are unknown (or, at best, when only the date of one (set) is known) to date those texts relative to one another.
Yet it is just this second, abnormal use of textual data that has fueled a debate amongst biblical scholars, particular over the last two decades or so, concerning the relative dating of parts of the Biblical Hebrew corpus. In this paper, I present an overview of the issues and the arguments that have defined the debate concerning the role of linguistic evidence in dating the Biblical Hebrew corpus. I then give an assessment of types of arguments that have been used to argue both for and against particular relative datings. Finally, I ask under what conditions, if at all, can linguistic evidence be used to establish a temporal ordering amongst texts whose date of composition is unknown. The conclusions I reach are, on the whole, not comforting to those who would engage in such exercises. One potentially fruitful approach, for corpora of sufficient size, might however be found in the constant rate hypothesis proposed by Anthony Kroch and used by him and his colleagues in the investigation of a number of primarily syntactic changes.
The loss of verb raising: A case study in syntactic variation
Variation is a well documented phenomenon associated with syntactic change. However, it is not clear how such synchronic variation should be accounted for in generative theories of syntactic change. There are two general approaches to syntactic change within the generative paradigm. Under the first approach, change involves abrupt reanalysis on the part of the language acquirer and change results from parameter resetting. The second approach hypothesizes that syntactic change may include grammar competition in some instances. The goal of this paper is to consider these two approaches to syntactic change by an examination of diachronic data from Faroese, Swedish, Scots and English. I will discuss variation and change in a single construction: the loss of verb raising to an inflection position. The diagnostic for the presence of such a verb movement operation is the position of the finite verb relative to negation or medial adverbs. I will argue against analyses that argue that the loss of verb raising to an inflectional head is triggered directly by the loss of rich verbal morphology and present a generative account of the empirical facts that also accounts for observed variation.
Distinguishing Direct Inheritance from Indirect Inheritance
and Drift: A Case of Syntactic Reconstruction in Austronesian Languages
Tokyo University of Foreign Studies
Linguistic features that are commonly observed within a language family are usually considered to be retentions from their commonly shared protolanguage ("direct inheritance"). However, such features can include those that are results of i) parallel innovations that took place after the languages split ("drift"), and ii) contact among genetically related languages ("indirect inheritance"). The possibility of some being non-direct inheritance (i or ii) is often overlooked in the traditional "bottom-up" reconstruction method, particularly when forms that show regular sound correspondences are involved.
I will show in this paper that, although the pronominal system of Proto-Oceanic has traditionally been reconstructed as accusative, a reconstruction where direct inheritance and non-direct inheritance are consciously separated shows a different result. In the method applied here, the directly inherited features are determined by a comparison between a parent proto-language (Proto-Extra Formosan) and the daughter languages of Proto-Oceanic. Then, related features in daughter languages observed today are examined to confirm that they are the result of later innovations. As a result, it can be clearly shown that Proto-Oceanic had an ergative pattern pronominal system, and most of the Oceanic languages today show an accusative system as a result of drift.
Top-down vs. bottom-up approaches to linguistic reconstruction
Australian National University
There are two ways in which a genealogical classification of languages can be reached. Both result in the same kind of tree diagram display but are different both conceptually and operationally. One approach starts by comparing languages within small groups that have a fairly obvious relationship, reconstructs a proto-language for each of these small language families, then applies the same procedure to the reconstructed proto-languages to reconstruct a higher-level proto-language ancestral to the super-family of the whole set. This is bottom-up reconstruction, which yields a hierarchy of languages, families, and super-families. A top-down approach begins by comparing a larger set of languages whose relationship does not appear to be so close, reconstructs a proto-language ancestral to them all, then on the basis of innovations common to subsets of the descendant languages posits subgroups headed by proto-languages intermediate between the top proto-language and the input languages.
I will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. I will also show how different results may follow from the two approaches, both in terms of the quantity of material available for reconstruction and the constituency of linguistic groupings, using data from the Pama-Nyungan (Australian) language family with its many subgroups. I will mention how these approaches have been used in the comparative study of Australian languages and make recommendations about the desirable order of carrying out the operations necessary to reconstruct both a high-level proto-language and the constituent subgroups with their intermediate proto-languages.
Reconstructing vocabulary: comparative wordlists vs. etymological
Harold Koch and Luise Hercus
Australian National University
Vocabulary comparison is a fundamental task in the comparative linguistics enterprise, whose goal is the determination of genealogical relations. Lexical lists that are organised on an identical principle, especially if they are available in electronic format, provide a convenient starting point for lexical comparison. However, if the lexical resources of the related languages are to be adequately compared, it is necessary to make use of vocabulary that is not so conveniently found in the same lexical slots. This is because lexemes shift semantically (e.g. English deer vs. German Tier 'animal') and/or are replaced only to survive in compounds or derivatives (e.g. English sooth 'truth' in sooth-sayer or quick 'alive' in quicken, quicksilver). Whether the goal is to find cognates for purposes of discovering sound correspondences, determining the closeness of genealogical relations, or reconstructing proto-vocabulary, one must work from etymological sets rather than mere translation equivalents.
We will illustrate the difference that is made between "comparative wordlist" and "etymological" approaches by investigating lexical data from a number of languages in Central Australia.
What does "genetic relationship" mean?
Australian National University
Thomason & Kaufman (1988:9-12) define "genetic relationship" on the basis of both the linguistic facts - i.e. the existence of correspondences between languages - as well as the social fact of "normal" linguistic transmission - i.e. that a language has been transmitted from one generation to the next with only minimal change. While this is Thomason & Kaufman's position, the idea of "normal" linguistic transmission is implicit in most scholars' understanding of genetic relationship. Linguists, more often than not, have no direct evidence of the social facts and rely solely on linguistic facts in making judgments about a language's genetic affiliation, but there is lack of agreement on the "linguistic signature" to be associated with this social process. Thomason & Kaufman argue that it results in correspondence within all parts of a language - phonology, morphology, syntax - and that absence of correspondence in all sub-systems implies absence of "normal" linguistic transmission, making the language unrelated genetically to any other languages. In this paper I address such questions as whether "normal" linguistic transmission does always go hand in hand with correspondence in all sub-systems of a language, and vice-versa. Is the boundary between "genetic" and "non-genetic" languages always so black and white? Can we draw such a boundary at all, as is doubted by Mufwene (2001)? The aim of this paper is to point out the lack of clarity associated with the concept of genetic relationship, and its social and linguistic aspects, as a step towards a better definition.
Thomason, Sarah Grey & Kaufman, Terrence (1988).
Language contact, creolization and genetic linguistics. Berkeley: California
Mufwene, Salikoko S. (2001). The ecology of language evolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Genetic versus Contact Relationships: the Origins of Brazilian
Federal University, Rio de Janeiro
There are two schools of thought with respect to the origin and structural affiliation of Brazilian Portuguese. One view has it that nothing more is at stake than the centuries old drift of Indo-European languages in general, and Romance languages in particular. The other view is that Brazilian Portuguese is radically divergent from European Portuguese because of the massive presence in Brazil of people of African origin, whose original languages might have influenced Brazilian Portuguese through a hypothetical pidgin or creole Portuguese stage.
Qualitative evidence is brought to bear on this issue by means of a comparison of structural types found in non-standard modern European Portuguese (particularly rural dialects) on the one hand and non-standard Brazilian Portuguese on the other hand, with special emphasis on those features on the phonological, morphological, and syntactic levels attributed in the literature to pidgin/creole influence. The variable phenomena discussed are: neutralization in subject/verb concord of the 3rd persons singular and plural and of the 1st and 3rd persons singular; noun phrase concord, simplification of syllable structure; alternation of [l] and [r]; nasalization and denasalization; use of nominative/subject pronominal forms in direct object position; use of oblique/object pronouns in subject position; use of the third-person reflexive form se for other grammatical persons; variable use of prepositions, including utilization of em 'in' instead of a 'to' and para 'for'; use of the verb ter 'to have' to indicate both possession and existence; widespread reduction in the system of verbal moods and tenses; frequent use of expletive forms, as well as of other emphatic markers, such as reduplication. This survey shows that all of the structural types alleged to indicate the presence of pidgin/creole features in Brazil are also present in Portugal.
Detailed quantitative evidence on variable subject/verb concordance in the 3rd person in ancient Portuguese documents, dating from before the discovery of Brazil, shows that all of the relevant linguistic factor groups in modern popular spoken Brazilian Portuguese were also valid for pre-classical written European Portuguese. The numerical values associated with each factor are virtually identical in the two cases.
The qualitative and quantitative data we have gathered permit us to affirm conclusively that the Portuguese language arrived in Brazil already charged with the variable characteristics viewed by some as creole-like. This variation flourished and expanded to a much larger scale in Brazil, where new social conditions, such as widespread multilingualism and adult second-language acquisition, failed to reinforce the norms that kept it within tighter limits in its land of origin.
Experiments in the top-down and bottom-up reconstruction
in the Trans New Guinea family
Australian National University
The Trans New Guinea hypothesis, as developed in Wurm (ed. 1975), assigned nearly 500 'Papuan' languages to a single genetic stock. The case for the hypothesis was severely criticised by reviewers of this book. One of the major complaints was that Wurm et al. used a 'top-down' method to reconstruct pTNG phonology and lexicon and to support claims of genetic relationship. If there ever was a pTNG, the reviewers said, it was too remote in time for this method to yield useful results. It would be necessary first to do bottom-up reconstruction, starting with low-order subgroups, and to bootstrap one's way upwards. The critics were right to find fault with the original case for the TNG hypothesis. However, recent work indicates that the critics were wrong in insisting that bottom-up must come first, in this case. We will consider why they were wrong.
Against a simplistic frequency-based analysis: the role of
phonological structure in the diachronic reduction of function words
University of Melbourne
The relatively rapid reduction and simplification of so-called 'function words' has been widely observed cross-linguistically (Givon 1984; Bybee et al 1994). Researchers interested in frequency effects have recently put forward one possible explanation for this tendency, related to the phonetic forms of high-frequency items in connected speech (Bybee 2001). However, given that this emerging paradigm also challenges traditional notions of phonological structure, it is important not overlook the strong conditions which structure can place on diachronic change. Drawing on evidence from Australian English, this paper advances two arguments. Firstly, it highlights the role that structure can play in licensing or blocking potential changes in function words. Secondly, it argues that caution should be exercised in drawing a causal link between their high frequency and 'phonetic erosion'. The case put is that, if a function word has both 'strong' and 'weak' forms - defined not by a level of reduction, but by their prosodic position in an utterance - then from time to time, new strong forms are generated analogically off weak forms (and vice versa). For the strong forms, this can lead to new forms which appear 'reduced' compared to the old. However, what is phonetically permissable in such a new strong form is constrained by system-specific phonotactics and correspondences between 'strong' and 'weak' subsystems.
Return to an etymological method: explaining typological
change in the history of the Chamic languages
Australian National University
The Chamic languages are a Malayo-Polynesian sub-grouping, located mostly in southern Vietnam. Chamic has undergone intensive contact from various Mon-Khmer languages, leading to dramatic lexical and phonological restructuring and convergence. The Acehnese language is spoken in western Sumatra, and is evidently related to Chamic, some scholars arguing that it is a Chamic language that migrated from Vietnam between 500 and 1000 years ago. Comparative analysis shows that Acehnese shows various isoglosses with Chamic, including various old Mon-Khmer loans. However, while Acehnese and Chamic share a high proportion of inherited Malayo-Polynesian lexicon, Acehnese has much less of the borrowed Mon-Khmer strata, perhaps as little as 10% of it. An attempts to etymologise the Chamic and Acehnese basic lexicon reveals a high proportion of Malay and other borrowings into Acehnese, and the possibility that Chamic-Acehnese isoglosses may similarly be later borrowings into Acehnese. It is possible that Acehnese formed in situ in Sumatra, and was Chamisised later in its development following historically attested Chamic migrations in the 1500s. Such a senario suggests a Malayo-Aceh-Cham subgroup within Malayo-Polynesian.
Complementary linguistic and sociolinguistic methods for
establishing chronology of innovations
Australian National University
The Indo-Aryan languages are commonly said to constitute a dialect-continuum which stretches from Afghanistan to Assam (cf. eg. Masica 1991:25). Such a context presents challenges to historical linguistics that are not unique to Indo-Aryan: How shall we theorise about language genesis so as to do justice to the non-discrete evolution of inter-related lects? Can processes and stages of non-discrete development be reconstructed without marginalising particular processes as 'non-genetic'? This paper responds to these challenges and demonstrates a model I am developing to explain such inter-related genesis among the Indo-Aryan lects of north Bengal. The model is innovative, bringing together historical linguistic, dialectological and sociolinguistic approaches.
Theoretically, the model takes its lead from Milroy, his promulgation of a speaker-based approach to language change (1992, 1999), and the relativisation of the distinction between internally- and externally-induced change - the genetic and the areal (Milroy 1997). Following Milroy, Ross (1997) applied the speaker-based approach to the reconstruction of prehistory, developing a theory for using linguistic innovations as windows onto Speech Community Events.
The model outlined in this paper builds on Ross' work, to develop a methodology for reconstructing language prehistory within a speaker-based approach. The key methodological innovation is that, rather than focusing exclusively on the reconstruction of linguistic features, the model requires a dual process of reconstruction: concurrently recovering both linguistic features and the linguistic (or dialectological) ranges attained by these features. The model thus brings together spatial and temporal approaches, dialectology and diachrony, without marginalising either.
In the case of north Bengal, where records of social history are available, the recovered changes in linguistic ranges can be compared with historically attested social entities to deliver an inter-disciplinary reconstruction of socio-linguistic history.
Masica, Colin P. 1991. The Indo-Aryan languages.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Milroy, James. 1992. Linguistic variation and change. Oxford: Blackwell.
Milroy, James. 1997. Internal vs external motivations for linguistic change. Multilingua 16(4): 311-323.
Milroy, James. 1999. Towards a speaker-based account of language change. In Ernst Hakon Jahr (ed.) Language change: advances in historical sociolinguistics. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Ross, Malcolm D. 1997. Social network and kinds of speech-community event. In Roger Blanch and Matthew Spriggs (eds.). Archaeology and Language I: Theoretical and Methodological Orientations. London / New York: Routledge. 1. pp 209-261.
The genetics of the Israeli language: revival, relexification
University of Cambridge
My proposed paper will examine whether ISRAELI, which emerged in Eretz Yisrael at the beginning of the twentieth century, is simultaneously both Semitic and Indo-European. The still prevalent, traditional view suggests that Israeli is Semitic: (Biblical/Rabbinic) Hebrew revived. The revisionist position defines it as Indo-European: Yiddish relexified. My own hypothesis argues that Israeli is mosaic - rather than Mosaic; both Hebrew and Yiddish act as its PRIMARY CONTRIBUTORS (rather than substrata). If my hypothesis is correct, the term Israeli is far more appropriate than Israeli Hebrew, let alone Modern Hebrew or Hebrew tout court.
As a means of testing my hybridizational hypothesis, I propose to employ an adapted version of the FOUNDER PRINCIPLE, which normally explains why the structural features of creoles are largely predetermined by the particular characteristics of the languages spoken by the first colonists. I predict that the Founder Principle can be adapted to Israeli, as follows: Yiddish is a primary contributor to Israeli because it was the mother tongue of the majority of the revivalists and first pioneers in Palestine during the period 1880-1920. All the other languages which have influenced Israeli - except for Hebrew - are secondary contributors. I acknowledge Hebrew as a primary contributor too although it had been clinically dead (as a mother tongue) for more than 1700 years. The reason is that I recognize that Hebrew persisted as an important literary and liturgical language (which explains the Hebrew apophonic morphology of Israeli).
I would propose to use the CONGRUENCE PRINCIPLE too: If a feature exists in more that one contributor - whether primary or secondary - it is more likely to persist. Thus, the SVO syntax of Israeli might be based simultaneously on that of standard European and on the marked order (for emphasis/contrast) of Rabbinic Hebrew.
This project, which explores conflicting traditions of historical linguistics, has important theoretical implications to the study of language evolution and variation, genetic versus contact linguistic relationships, and internally versus externally motivated change.