Typological plausibility and historical reconstruction: a puzzle from New Guinea

Aikhenvald, A.Y. (2010) Typological plausibility and historical reconstruction: a puzzle from New Guinea. In: Nikolaeva, Tatiana M., (ed.) Studies in linguistics and semiotics: collection of articles for the anniversary of Viacheslav. Languages ​​of Slavic Cultures, Moscow, pp. 309-317.

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Abstract

Analyzing a previously undescribed language is fraught with difficulties. If a language has numerous homonymous forms, a linguist might try and establish connections between these, based on what is judged typologically plausible. Comparative evidence from related languages can also be handy. Typological studies help comparative linguistics; and comparative linguistics may suggest hints as to which typological analogy to follow (see: Ivanov 1988: 17; Ivanov, Gamkrelidze 1984; Dixon 1997).

But typological plausibility may turn out to be ephemeral, if historical facts revealed through a careful reconstruction uncover a different scenario. Here I focus on an example from Manambu, a previously undescribed Non-Austronesian ('Papuan') language from the Ndu family in the Sepik area of New Guinea, 'the last unknown'. This case study is dedicated to Vjacheslav Vsevolodovich, my role model in linguistics, to whom I owe most of my background in both typology and historical linguistics.

Item ID: 15765
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
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Publisher (translated): Yazyki Slavjanskikh Kuljtur

ISBN: 978-5-9551-0438-6
Date Deposited: 05 May 2011 01:02
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200407 Lexicography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 100%
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