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Historical linguistics

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  1. Historical linguistics LING 200 Spring 2006

  2. Overview of unit • Some basic concepts in historical linguistics • Examples of language families • Types of language change • Linguistic reconstruction • Reconstruction and prehistory

  3. What is historical linguistics? • Synchronic linguistics • What is language (at a particular point in time)? • Diachronic linguistics (a.k.a. historical linguistics) • How does language change over time? • How do words change over time (etymology)? • What aspects of language can be reconstructed? • What does a reconstructed language reveal about the culture and/or location of its speakers?

  4. Overview • Similarities between languages • Language families • Language change • Reconstruction and comparative method • Reconstruction and prehistory

  5. Observations Deg Xinag Sahaptin Witsuwit'en Sekani

  6. Similarities between languages • May be due to: • borrowing • coincidence • inheritance from common ancestor

  7. Language families • Trees as a model of divergence over time ancestor language daughter daughter daughter • Deg Xinag, Witsuwit’en, Sekani are daughters or descendants of Proto-Athabaskan

  8. Proto-Anglo-Frisian Old English Old Frisian Middle English Modern English Modern Frisian

  9. Proto-Romance (Latin) Spanish Portuguese Italian French Rumanian ...

  10. Some terminology • Deg Xinag [the] ‘water’, Witsuwit’en [tho] ‘water’ and Sekani [thu] ‘water’ are cognate words (or cognates) • Deg Xinag [the] ‘water’, Witsuwit’en [tho] ‘water’ and Sekani [thu] ‘water’ are reflexes of Proto-Athabaskan *thu: ‘water’

  11. Ancestor languages Actually attested: Latin Hypothetical, reconstructed: Proto-Anglo-Frisian, Proto-Romance

  12. Indo-European languages

  13. Indo-European language family

  14. Family time-depth • How long ago was the ancestor language spoken? • Proto-Indo-European: 5000-6000 • Proto-Germanic: 2500-3500 • Family of remote time-depth • phylum, stock

  15. More language families each dot = 1 language family

  16. Africa

  17. Niger-Congo languages

  18. China, Taiwan (Most western linguists don’t believe Kam-Tai and Miao-Yao are Sino-Tibetan.) Kam-Tai a.k.a. Tai, Tai-Kadai Miao-Yao a.k.a Hmong-Mien

  19. Proto-Chinese Mandarin Wú Gàn Xiāng Southern group N. NW SW E. Kejia Yue Min Peking Shānxi, Sìchuān, Shànghai E. Hunan Chéngbù Hakka Cantonese Xiāmen, (Beijing) Xian Kunming Taiwanese

  20. Athabaskan (Athapaskan, Athabascan) family Estimated time-depth: 2500 years

  21. Na-Dene Tlingit Proto-Athabaskan-Eyak Eyak Proto-Athabaskan CAY S. AK Tset CBC PCA NW Can Sar Apache Deg Xinag Witsuwit’en Sekani CAY = Central Alaska-Yukon; S. AK = S. Alaska; Tset = Tsetsaut, CBC = Central BC, PCA = Pacific Coast Athabaskan; NW Can = NW Canada; Sar = Sarcee

  22. PenutianProto-SahaptianSahaptin Nez Perce

  23. Language isolate • No known related languages • Zuni • Haida • Basque • Sumerian

  24. Haida Zuni

  25. Language change • How languages change/types of language change • phonetic, phonological change • morphological change • semantic change

  26. Phonetic vs. phonological change • Phonetic change: change in pronunciation of phonemes • Phonological change: change in phoneme inventory. May result from: • phoneme merger or split • several phonetic changes • borrowing of words with new sound

  27. Phonetic change Babine-Witsuwit’en language (western B.C.) Takla, Babine dialects Affrication isogloss Witsuwit'en, François L. dialects

  28. [c] = voiceless palatal stop; [c] = voiceless palato-alveolar affricate Babine/Takla dialects: added an allophonic rule of Affrication /c ch c’/ --> [c ch c’] / syllable[____

  29. Consonant inventory All Babine-Witsuwit’en dialects

  30. Phonological change • Change affecting phoneme inventory • Merger • e.g. *t, *d > /t/ • Cf. synchronic neutralization • e.g. /d/  [t] / ___ # (not phonetically distinct from /t/ word finally)

  31. Examples of phonological change • Development of Proto-Athabaskan consonant inventory in Tsek’ene • Development of Proto-Athabaskan vowel inventory in Tsek’ene

  32. Proto-Ath consonant inventory

  33. Reflexes of retroflex, palato-alveolars in Tsek’ene

  34. Reflexes of retroflex, palato-alveolars in Tsek’ene • alveolar sibilant, retroflex sibilant, palato-alveolar sibilant > alveolar • place merger only • stops > stops • fricatives > fricatives • voiceless aspirated stops remained voiceless, etc.

  35. Tsek’ene consonant inventory

  36. Morphological change • Morphemes are added

  37. Morphemes disappear

  38. Morphemes change lexical category

  39. Reanalysis of two(+) morphemes as one

  40. Analogy (paradigm leveling) Proto-Athabaskan Central BC Proto-Babine-Carrier Carrier Babine-Witsuwit’en

  41. Future vowel > uniformly [a] Progressive vowel > uniformly [i]

  42. Semantic change Narrowing (hyponym formation)

  43. Narrowing

  44. Broadening Hypernym formation

  45. Broadening

  46. Semantic shift or

  47. Semantic shift

  48. Conservative vs. innovative • Languages are a mixture of conservative and innovative characteristics • cf. 'old’: All the (modern) daughters of a proto-language are of equal time-depth

  49. Conservative vs. innovative