Linguistic Typology and Historical Linguistics

Kenneth Shields

in The Oxford Handbook of Linguistic Typology

Published in print November 2010 | ISBN: 9780199281251
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

 Linguistic Typology and Historical Linguistics

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  • Linguistics
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  • Historical and Diachronic Linguistics


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Linguistic typology has come to play an important, multifaceted role in the long-established field of historical linguistics. Its manifestations within historical linguistic study are addressed. The examples chosen to illustrate these applications are drawn from Indo-European historical linguistics. A major interest of historical linguists in recent years has been the establishment of macrofamilies through the identification of distant linguistic relationships. Grammaticalization involves ‘an evolution whereby linguistic units lose in semantic complexity, pragmatic significance, syntactic freedom, and phonetic substance’. The exploration of linguistic prehistory is always a speculative enterprise. Although an important multifaceted role for linguistic typology within historical linguistics is now firmly established, differences of theoretical opinion remain among historical linguists regarding how current typological formulations are to be applied to the prehistoric linguistic structures posited by historical linguists.

Keywords: linguistic typology; historical linguistics; Indo-European family; grammaticalization; linguistic prehistory; historical linguists; prehistoric linguistic structures

Article.  7670 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Linguistic Typology ; Historical and Diachronic Linguistics

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