Areal diffusion, genetic inheritance and problems of subgrouping: a north Arawak case study

Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. (2006) Areal diffusion, genetic inheritance and problems of subgrouping: a north Arawak case study. In: Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y., and Dixon, R.M.W., (eds.) Areal Diffusion and Genetic Inheritance: problems in comparative linguistics. Explorations in Lingusitic Typology . Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK, pp. 167-194.

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Abstract

[From Introduction:] THE PROBLEM OF LINGUISTIC SUBGROUPINGS To establish subgroupings within a language family one needs to recognize 'a set of changes common to a particular subgroup which has occurred behveen the period of divergences of the family as a whole and that of the subgroup in question' (Greenberg 1953: 49). The shared changes should be significant and fairly unusual, not the sorts of changes that recur all over the world and could well have happened independently in each of the languages (e.g. palatalizing a velar consonant next to a front vowel). Note that the criterial features must be shared innovatio1lS. If a number of languages within a given family share retentions from the proto-language this does not require a period of shared development and does not constitute evidence for subgrouping. Shared loss (e.g. loss of a system of possession markers, pronominal suffIxes, or tense inflections) is also not a good criterion for subgrouping. 'Nhat may be signifIcant is the way the loss is replaced; if each of the languages loses tense inflection on verbs but then makes reference to time through an innovated system of auxiliaries (with the auxiliaries being cognate in form) then this shared innovation does provide evidence for their constituting a subgroup.

Item ID: 9360
Item Type: Book Chapter (Research - B1)
ISBN: 978-0-19-928308-8
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Date Deposited: 27 Apr 2010 02:48
FoR Codes: 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE > 2004 Linguistics > 200407 Lexicography @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 100%
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