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Historical Linguistics 2001

PDF This collection brings together selected contributions to the 15th International Conference on Historical Linguistics held in Melbourne in August 2001. There are 25 papers altogether, on a variety of languages.

I was expecting to see a substantial amount of papers on Australian languages because of the venue, but surprisingly only one — Alan Dench on verb tenses in the Pilbara languages — does so. In the main, the authors explore European languages to glean interesting universal developments: Scandinavian languages (several papers), Portuguese, Romanian, Finnish (2 papers), English (2 papers), Dutch (2 papers, one comparing it with Afrikaans), German, and. The non-European languages, besides the aforementioned Australian contribution, explored here are Amazonian languages, Indonesian, and Southern Chinese.

There are also more general papers here, such as Bernd Heine’s contribution on degrammaticalization, Patrick Honeybone’s on process inhibition in historical phonology, and Koch on historical morphology as an etymological method. An important general paper here is Lyle Campbell’s "Beyond the comparative method?". Campbell is a well-known sceptic of longrange comparisons going many millennia further back in time than most recognized families. Here he makes devastating critiques of not only Greenberg’s mass comparisons and Dixon’s “punctuated equilibrium” – which have generally been debunked elsewhere, but he also shows fatal methodological errors in Johanna Nichols’ more respected work.

With a collection from a wide-ranging conferences like this, not everything will appeal to all readers, but I feel quite sure that virtually all readers interested in historical linguistics will find enjoyable, thought-provoking material here.

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eBook formatHardcover, (torrent)En
PublisherJohn Benjamins Publishing Co
File size6.5 Mb
Release date 01.07.2003
Pages count442
Book rating4.33 (3 votes)
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