Chapter

Reconstructing Language History

D. Gary Miller

in Language Change and Linguistic Theory, Volume I

Published in print August 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583423
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723438 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199583423.003.0003
Reconstructing Language History

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  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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Since all language history is reconstructed in varying degrees, methodology is of paramount importance. Four methods are discussed: (1) internal reconstruction from synchronic alternations; (2) comparative reconstruction based on corresponding forms in related languages/dialects; (3) historical reconstruction from the interpretation of older documents and cultural history; and (4) apparent time, based on a synchronic crosscut of variation across multiple generations. Models of representing language affiliation include waves, cladograms, and phylogenetic and other networks. Extensive borrowing and hybridization are the major inhibiting factors in reconstruction and tracing linguistic affiliation through time.

Keywords: methodology; borrowing; hybridization; phylogenetic network; language history; language reconstruction

Chapter.  8798 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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