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Historical Linguistics: Change, reconstruction. LING 400 Winter 2010. Overview. Reconstruction Time-depth Conversative vs. innovative languages Reconstruction and prehistory More historical change Morphological, morphosyntactic Semantic. please turn off your cell phone.

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overview
Overview
  • Reconstruction
    • Time-depth
    • Conversative vs. innovative languages
    • Reconstruction and prehistory
  • More historical change
    • Morphological, morphosyntactic
    • Semantic

please turn off your cell phone

For further learning about historical linguistics: LING 454

time depth
Time-depth
  • “Persian is an old language.”
  • All (modern) daughters of proto-language have equal time-depth.
time depth1
Time-depth
  • Proto-Indo-European: 5000-6000 years ago
    • Proto-Germanic: 2500-3500
  • Oldest IE written documents
    • Hittite 1300 B.C.
    • Sanskrit 1200 B.C.
    • Greek 1000 B.C. (Mycenean earlier)
reconstruction
Reconstruction
  • The comparative method
    • assemble cognates
    • deduce proto-form, meaning
  • “Reconstructible”
    • Not necessarily attested in all branches
    • *ēg̤w- ‘drink’
      • Hittite
      • Latin ēbrius ‘drunk’
a cognate set
A cognate set
  • Sanskrit [snuʂā́] ‘daughter-in-law’
  • Old English [snoru] ‘daughter-in-law’
  • Old Church Slavonic [snŭxa] ‘daughter-in-law’
  • Latin [nurus] ‘daughter-in-law’
  • Greek [nuós] ‘daughter-in-law’
  • Armenian [nu] ‘bride, daughter-in-law’
  • Albanian [nuse] ‘bride’
reconstruction1
Reconstruction
  • *sn… or *n…? ‘daughter-in-law’
    • Latin nix, niv- ‘snow’
    • English snow
    • PIE *sneig̤w- ‘to snow’

vs.

    • Latin ne- ‘not’
    • Old English ne ‘not’
    • PIE *ne ‘not’
  • [u], OCS [ŭ], OE [o] < *u
  • Medial *s? *ʂ?r?
    • Sanskrit *s > ʂ / u__
    • Latin s > r/ V__V,  Germanic
    • Greek, Armenian *s > 0 / V__V
  • … (ending, accent)
  • PIE *snu|sos
  • ‘daughter-in-law’ or ‘bride’?
    • most early IE societies patriarchal and patrilocal
    • ‘daughter-in-law’ in most; ‘bride’ restricted
conservative vs innovative
Conservative vs. innovative
  • Sanskrit [snuʂā́] < *snu|sos
    • conserves [sn], [u]; accent
    • innovates *s > ʂ / u__
  • Albanian [nuse] ‘bride’
    • conserves [u], medial [s]
    • innovates *s > 0 / __n, semantics
reconstruction and prehistory
Reconstruction and prehistory
  • Calvert Watkins: ‘the lexicon of a language remains the single most effective way of approaching and understanding the culture of its speakers…The reconstruction of vocabulary can offer a fuller, more interesting view of the culture of a prehistoric people than archaeology precisely because it includes nonmaterial culture.’
proto indo european
Proto-Indo-European
  • *med̤u- ‘mead, honey’
  • *daiwer- ‘husband’s brother’
    • *wife’s relatives
  • *sneig̤w- ‘snow’
  • *laks- ‘salmon’ (lox)
  • *mori- ‘body of water; lake (?), sea (?)’ (mermaid)
  • *gr̩-no ‘grain’ (> corn)
  • *owi- ‘sheep’ (> ewe)
  • *demə- ‘house, household’
    • *dem(ə)- ‘to build’ (> timber)
  • *kwel- ‘to revolve, go around’, *kw(e)-kwl-o- ‘wheel’
historical linguistics
Historical linguistics
  • 1786 Sir William Jones observed similarities between Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Latin, Gothic, Celtic, Old Persian
  • 19th century: reconstruction of PIE
  • 20th century on
    • Hittite, Tocharian
    • Comparative method applicable elsewhere
language change
Language change
  • Languages may change on various levels
    • phonetics, phonology
    • morphology
    • syntax
    • semantics
morphemes disappear
Morphemes disappear

PADeg Xinag Witsuwit’en Tsek’ene

‘man’s daughter’ *-tsheʔ -[tθhɑʔ] -[tshɛʔ] --

‘arm’ *-qɑ̰:neʔ -[qon] -- -[kònèʔ]

paradigm leveling
Paradigm leveling
  • Elimination of irregularity among morphologically related forms
slide16

‘Leveled’ progressive paradigm (uniformly [i])

‘Leveled’ future paradigm (uniformly [ɑ])

slide17

Semantic change

Reduction (hyponym formation)

  • Proto-Athabaskan Tsek’ene
  • *-ʁəm‘snore, growl’ -[hxõ̀h] ‘snore’
  • Witsuwit’en
  • *-ntɑ̰:c ‘dance’ -[ntec] ‘(white people) dance’
extension
Extension

Hypernym formation

  • Proto-Athabaskan Tsek’ene
  • *cḭ:ce: ‘blueberry’ ʧɪ̀ʧe ‘berry’
where was proto athabaskan spoken
Where was Proto-Athabaskan spoken?
  • Michael Krauss
    • the PA homeland (Urheimat) ‘was in eastern Alaska, interior, perhaps extending into Canada already.’
considerations
Considerations
  • Deep vs. shallow differentiation
  • Location of related languages
  • Reconstructed vocabulary
differentiation
Differentiation
  • Deep differentiation: long occupation of territory
    • Alaska, western BC
  • Closely related: recent spread
    • Mackenzie R.
    • Pacific Coast
    • Apachean
related languages
Related languages
  • Usually nearby
  • Eyak
    • mouth of Copper R.
  • Tlingit
    • Alaska panhandle
reconstructed vocabulary
Reconstructed vocabulary
  • Mountains and snow
    • *tsəɬ‘mountain’
    • *ʔa:ç ‘snowshoe’
    • *ɬu:‘ice, icicle, glacier’

1910 map

Hudson Bay Mt., B.C.

summary
Summary
  • All languages change over time
  • Change occurs at all levels of grammar
  • Earlier stages can often be reconstructed, with implications for prehistory
question
Question
  • Bronze Age 3300-1200 BC (bronze < copper+tin)
    • PIE *ajes- ‘copper or bronze’ (attested in Latin, Greek, Sanskrit)
  • Iron Age (1300 BC on) (iron, steel)
    • *isarno ‘iron’ only attested in Germanic, Celtic
  • Are *ajes and *isarno relevant to dating of PIE? (PIE estimated 5000-6000 BC.)
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