An Essay on the Origin and Classification of Languages

An Essay on the Origin and Classification of Languages

An Essay on the Origin and Classification of Languages Fernando M Q Pereira Why to Classify Languages? How many different languages exist? How old are the languages? Is there a common ancestor of all the languages? How do languages evolve?

Classification Systems Areal Classification Typological Classification Genetic Classification Universal versus Specific Which properties are present in every language?

Which properties are specific of some languages? Typological Classification 1 Isolating/root/analytic languages Agglutinating languages Lat. agglutinare `to glue together Inflectional/fusion languages

Typological Classification 2

SVO SOV VSO VOS OVS OSV Genetic Classification Most languages share common ancestors.

Genetic markers: characteristics shared by related languages that hardly would happen by chance. Cognate words. Glottochronology Stocks of Related Languages

Niger-Congo Austronesian, Trans-New Guine,

Indo-European, Sino-Tibetan Afro-Asiatic Nilo-Saharan

Oto-Manguean Austro-Asiatic Sepik-Ramu Tai-kadai Tupi

Dravidian Mayan Applications The age of languages Language reconstruction Diversification of Languages Small, isolated populations.

Social stratification. Contact between cultures. Pidgin, Creole. Examples Russian <- East Slavic <- Slavic <- Indo-European Sister languages: Belarusian, Ukrainian, Rusyn

Franch <- Oil <- Gallo-Rhaetian <- GalloRomance <- Italic Romance <- Indo-European Sister languages: Lombard, Piedmontese, Ligurian, Franco-Provencal Mandarin <- Chinese <- Sino-Tibetan Sister languages: Wu, Xiang, Gan, Hakka, Cantonese, Min.

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