Historical Linguistics and Endangered Languages
Exploring Diversity in Language Change
This collection showcases the contributions of the study of endangered and understudied languages to historical linguistic analysis, and the broader relevance of diachronic approaches toward developing better informed approaches to language documentation and description.
The volume brings together perspectives from both established and up-and-coming scholars and represents a globally and linguistically diverse range of languages.The collected papers demonstrate the ways in which endangered languages can challenge existing models of language change based on more commonly studied languages, and can generate innovative insights into linguistic phenomena such as pathways of grammaticalization, forms and dynamics of contact-driven change, and the diachronic relationship between lexical and grammatical categories. In so doing, the book highlights the idea that processes and outcomes of language change long held to be universally relevant may be more sensitive to cultural and typological variability than previously assumed.
Taken as a whole, this collection brings together perspectives from language documentation and historical linguistics to point the way forward for richer understandings of both language change and documentary-descriptive approaches, making this key reading for scholars in these fields.
Table of Contents
List of contributors
1. Introduction. Patience Epps, Danny Law, and Na’ama Pat-El
Section I. Synchrony and diachrony in phonological systems
2. Why is tone change still poorly understood, and how might documentation of less-studied tone languages help? Eric W. Campbell
3. Phonological enrichment in Neo-Aramaic dialects through language contact. Geoffrey Khan
4. Vowel quality as a history maker: Stress, metaphony and the renewal of Proto-Semitic morphology in Modern South Arabian. Julien Dufour
Section II. Synchrony and diachrony in morphology and syntax
5. Patterns of retention and innovation in Dene-Yeniseian verb morphology. Edward J. Vajda
6. Serial verbs and the production of grammatical morphology. Patience Epps and Sunkulp Ananthanarayan
Section III. Dynamics of diversity and contact
7. The comparative method and language change in residual areas: A view from the Nuba Mountains. Gerrit J. Dimmendaal
8. Inside Contact-Stimulated Grammatical Development. Marianne Mithun
Section IV. Classification and Prehistory
9. A Reconstruction of Proto-Croisilles Phonology and Lexicon. Andrew Pick
10. The linguistic prehistory of the western Himalayas: Endangered minority languages as a window to the past. Manuel Widmer
Patience Epps is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Danny Law is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.
Na’ama Pat-El is Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, USA.