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Classification. I Comparative Method. Language Change. Contemporary English Our Father, who is in heaven, may your name be kept holy. Old English (c. 1000) Faeder ure thu the eart on heofonum, si thin nama gehalgod. Question 1.

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classification

Classification

I

Comparative Method

language change
Language Change

Contemporary English

Our Father, who is in heaven,

may your name be kept holy

Old English (c. 1000)

Faeder ure thu the eart on heofonum,

si thin nama gehalgod

question 1
Question 1
  • How do we know that the contemporary English and the old English, which look totally different from each other, are actually related?
  • Why are they so different?
filling the gap
Filling the Gap

Early Modern English (c.1600)

Our father which are in heaven,

hallowed be thy Name

Middle English (c. 1400)

Oure fadir that art in heuenes

halowid be thi name

community breaks up

Dialects

Community Breaks Up

A

B C D

Any new changes in a particular group will not be spread over to the others.

slide6

Language Family

Languages

As Time Goes By

A

B C D

More changes in different groups.

dialect chain
Dialect Chain
  • Languages spoken in two adjoining regions are mutually intelligible, but the mutual intelligibility does not extend to the next region.

A B C D

question 2
Question 2
  • What does it mean to say that two languages are “related”? If two languages show some similarities, can we say that they are related?
slide9

A

B C D

Proto-language

Proto-language

Daughter languages

proto polynesian
Proto-Polynesian

Proto-Polynesian

Tongan Samoan Maori

question 3
Question 3
  • What is a subgroup? If two languages show some similarities, can we say that they belong to the same subgroup?
subgroup
Subgroup

B C D

E F G H I

A

reconstruction
Reconstruction
  • Principle 1:
  • The existence of systematic similarities too great to be explained by chance, e.g., a set of regular sound correspondences in the vocabulary.
sound correspondence
Sound Correspondence

MāoriTahitianHawaiianMeaning

ingoa i'oa inoa name

mata mata maka eye

matangi mata'i makani wind

mate mate make dead

ngutu ‘utu nuku mouth

tangata ta'ata kanaka person

tangi ta'i kani weep

slide15

Sound Correspondence

MāoriTahitianHawaiian

i i i

o o o

a a a

e e e

u u u

m m m

ng ' n

t t k

cognates
Cognates

Corresponding words in related languages are called cognates.

ingoa - i'oa - inoa

Each of these cognates is a reflex of the proto-form from which it is descended.

*ingoa

two kinds of similarity
Two Kinds of Similarity
  • Shared retention

A feature F of the Proto language remains unchanged in both languages.

  • Shared innovation

A feature F of the Proto language has changed into F’ in both languages (i.e., the two languages underwent the same change.

shared innovations
Shared Innovations
  • Principle 2:
  • Within a family, subgroups will show shared innovations from the proto-language.
question 4
Question 4
  • Shared retention cannot be used as evidence of a subgroup. Why?
shared innovations1
Shared Innovations

A

B C D

E F G H I

The changes that took place between the breakup of A and the later breakup of B will be reflected in E, F, and G, but not in H or I.

question 5
Question 5
  • What can we learn about the history of the speakers by studying a linguistic family?
diversity
Diversity
  • Principle 3:
  • Greater diversity of daughter languages impliesa longer period of separation.
shared innovations2
Shared Innovations
  • Principle 4:
  • The larger the number of shared innovations in a subgroup, the longer the period of separate development before breakup of the proto-language.
shared innovations3
B and C share a few common innovations, forming a weak subgroup, while D and E share a great many, forming a strong subgroup.

A

B C D E

Shared Innovations
homeland
Homeland?
  • Principle 5:
  • The homeland of a language family was some part of the territory over which its daughter languages are now spoken.
hierarchy
Hierarchy
  • Principle 6:
  • Assuming that the earliest migrations from the homeland were nearby areas, and that later migrations populated successively more distant areas, the highest order divisions in the family will be represented in the area near the homeland.
lexicostatistics
Lexicostatistics
  • Swadesh List
    • First used in early 1950s.
    • A list of 200 meanings intended to be, as nearly as possible, universally known and culture independent

e.g., ‘and’, ‘big’, ‘drink’, ‘head’, ‘mother’,

‘skin’, ‘throw’

assumptions
Assumptions
  • Some parts of the vocabulary of a language are much less subject to change than other parts.
  • This ‘core’ vocabulary is the same for all languages.
  • The actual rate of vocabulary replacement in the core vocabulary is the same for all languages at any period of time.

Tested on 13 languages, an average vocabulary retention of 80.5% every thousand years.

glottochronology
Glottochronology
  • Based on the lexicostatistic data and the following formula, the time-depth of a language can be calculated.

t = logC

2logr

where C is the percentage of cognates and r is the retention rate (.805)

question 51
Question 5
  • How reliable is lexicostatistics?
  • What kind of problems does it have?
how reliable
How Reliable?
  • Borrowing:

e.g., Tongan words in East Uvea (85%)

  • Name avoidance:

e.g., Tahitian (White 1967)

poo ‘night’ is replaced by ru’i,

mare ‘cough’ by hota

during the reign of Pomare I