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Historical Linguistics and Language Change : Cambridge Studies in Linguistics - Roger Lass

Historical Linguistics and Language Change

Cambridge Studies in Linguistics

Paperback

Published: 2nd June 1997
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Language change happens in the spatio-temporal world. Historical linguistics is the craft linguists exercise upon its results, in order to tell coherent stories about it. In a series of linked essays Roger Lass offers a critical survey of the foundations of the art of historical linguistics, and its interaction with its subject matter, language change. He takes as his background some of the major philosophical issues which arise from these considerations, such as ontology, realism and conventionalism, and explanation. Along the way he poses such questions as: where does our data come from; how trustworthy is it; what is the empirical basis for the reconstructive techniques we standardly take as yielding facts; and how much does the historian create data rather than receiving it? The paradoxical conclusion is that our historiographical methods are often better than the data they have to work with.

'This is a very interesting book, and the reader who is familiar with the basics of historical linguistics will find it inspiring and stimulating.' Moderna Sprak

Prefacep. xiii
Conventions, abbreviations and symbolsp. xxi
General prologue: time travel and signal processingp. 1
The past, the present and the historianp. 4
The historian as mythmakerp. 4
Messages from the past: historical understanding and the problem of 'synchrony'p. 9
Making history: witnesses and interpretationp. 16
Making history: reconstructionp. 21
Making history: the role of uniformity constraintsp. 24
Metaphor and accessp. 32
Metaphor and metalanguagep. 41
Summaryp. 42
Written records: evidence and argumentp. 44
Prologuep. 44
Hearing the inaudiblep. 45
Graph interpretation: generalitiesp. 45
What does writing represent?p. 47
'Defective' alphabetic representation and the shape of reconstructive argumentp. 50
Allophonic spellingp. 57
Orthographic conservatism: good and bad newsp. 58
What do texts represent? Variation and etat de languep. 61
Spelling variationp. 61
The import of variation: a test casep. 63
Morphological variationp. 66
Literary evidence: rhyme and metrep. 68
Metalinguistic evidencep. 78
Premodern phoneticiansp. 78
Glosses and translationsp. 83
What is a 'word' anyhow? Or a sentence, or text?p. 93
Desperate remedies: interpreting vs. disappearingp. 96
Relatedness, ancestry and comparisonp. 104
'Family resemblances'p. 104
Historicity: how are families possible?p. 109
Replication and shared errorsp. 111
Cladistic concepts in language filiationp. 113
Homoplasyp. 118
'Sound laws', cognateness and familiesp. 123
Diagnostic characters and regular correspondencesp. 123
'Regular sound change'p. 132
Comparative method: apomorphies, ancestors and etymologiesp. 135
Problems and pseudo-problemsp. 139
Variation, diffusion and competitionp. 139
Subgrouping: non-arboriform genalogies and character-weightingp. 143
Multiple descent and 'hybridizationp. 158
Etymologies and 'etymologies': the hypertaxon problemp. 159
Non-phonological evidence for relationshipp. 169
Convergence and contactp. 172
Preliminariesp. 172
Homoplasy vs. plesiomorphyp. 173
A test case: Afrikaans diphthongizationp. 173
Excursus: motivated and unmotivated naturalnessp. 177
The north-European diphthongization areap. 179
Contactp. 184
The constraints problemp. 184
Sorting, 1: 'synchronic foreignness'p. 190
Sorting, 2: asymmetrical correspondencesp. 195
Sorting, 3: non-substantial ('structural') loansp. 197
Contact agendas and etymologyp. 201
Endogeny vs. contact as a methodological issuep. 207
Etymologyia ex silentio: contact with lost languagesp. 209
The nature of reconstructionp. 215
Beyond filiationp. 215
Projection vs. mappingp. 216
Principlesp. 216
'Quanta' and phonetic gradualism: a few suggestionsp. 221
Morphoclines, quanta and borrowingp. 225
Projection again: conventions and justificationsp. 228
Internal reconstructionp. 232
Tautolinguistic cognates and reconstructionp. 232
Internal reconstruction and 'abstract' morphophonemicsp. 234
The limits of internal reconstructionp. 237
Chronology and sequencep. 241
Morphosyntactic reconstructionp. 246
Preliminariesp. 246
Reconstructing morphology: a non-examplep. 251
Simplification and cyclicityp. 252
Morphological portmanteausp. 257
Plesiomorphous residuep. 263
Directionality and morphoclinesp. 267
Postscript: realism in reconstructionp. 270
Phonetic realism: the art of coarse transcriptionp. 270
What is a protolanguage?p. 272
Time and change: the shape(s) of historyp. 277
The nature of 'change'p. 277
Language in time: when is a change?p. 281
Linguistic timep. 290
Arrows and cyclesp. 290
Epigenetic landscapesp. 293
Point attractors: grammaticalization and other sinksp. 295
Cyclical attractorsp. 297
Chreods: conspiracy and driftp. 300
Stasis and punctuationp. 303
The emergence of noveltyp. 305
Ex nihilo nihil fit? Setting the boundariesp. 305
The joys of junk: decomposition and bricolagep. 309
Exaptationp. 316
Non-junk exaptation: inventing new systemsp. 318
Explanation and ontologyp. 325
The issuesp. 325
Conceptual preliminariesp. 325
The logical structure of explanationsp. 328
In which the author revisits an earlier self, and is not entirely satisfied by what he sees, but not entirely repentantp. 332
Hermeneutic explicationp. 336
The 'hermeneutic challenge'p. 336
Does the mind 'shun purposeless variety'?p. 340
Function: hermeneutics and the individualist errorp. 352
Is change 'functional', 'dysfunctional' or neutral?p. 352
Functional explanation: an examplep. 355
Prophylaxis and therapyp. 359
Whose function? Individuals vs. collectivesp. 361
'Agents': structure, pragmatics and invisible handsp. 366
A modest ontological proposalp. 370
The locus of change: societies vs. populationsp. 370
A medium-neutral evolutionary modelp. 376
Consequences of the population model: bottlenecks, universals and 'mind'p. 382
Envoip. 384
Referencesp. 391
Index of namesp. 416
Subject indexp. 420
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780521459242
ISBN-10: 0521459249
Series: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics
Audience: Professional
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 448
Published: 2nd June 1997
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.88  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.64