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Historical Linguistics • Language history – drift: change by internal development – contact: change Historical Linguistics • Language history – drift: change by internal development – contact: change by external borrowing • Possible relations among languages – family tree: • similarity due to separate development from common ancestor – diffusion of traits • similarity due to borrowing in period of contact – or, no provable relationship • Tasks of historical linguistics – inference of historical connections – reconstruction of “proto” languages 2/6/01

Sir William Jones • Lawyer appointed in 1783 to superintend British jurisprudence in India Sir William Jones • Lawyer appointed in 1783 to superintend British jurisprudence in India • Life-long friend of Benjamin Franklin, and supporter of the American revolution • Founded the Asiatic Society in Calcutta “for Inquiring into the History, Civil and Natural, the Antiquities, Arts, Sciences, and Literature, of Asia” • Learned Sanskrit because “the laws of the natives must be preserved inviolate; but the learning and vigilance of the English judge must be a check upon the native interpreters” 2/6/01

 • Known as “Oriental Jones” • One of the early European “orientalists” – • Known as “Oriental Jones” • One of the early European “orientalists” – Cross-cultural pioneers? – Agents of colonial domination? 2/6/01

Historical Context • The British in India – piecemeal conquest 1750 -1900 • began Historical Context • The British in India – piecemeal conquest 1750 -1900 • began with trade concessions in Calcutta and Bombay • expanded one principality at a time – mixture of direct and indirect rule • many Indian institutions left in place • rule mainly administered and enforced by Indians – until 1850 s, administration was in the hands of the East India Company rather than the British Crown 2/6/01

India in 1785 2/6/01 India in 1785 2/6/01

Jones learns Sanskrit (1783 -1786) • Sanskrit – Language of Hindu holy texts (1000 Jones learns Sanskrit (1783 -1786) • Sanskrit – Language of Hindu holy texts (1000 BC) – Formalized by grammarians c. 600 BC – Preserved to the present day as a language of religion and learning • No Brahman would teach a foreigner – Jones hired a vaidya (doctor) as tutor while the Brahmanic scholars were away on a religious retreat 2/6/01

Jones’ Third Discourse (1786) • Anniversary addresses to the Asiatic Society – First Discourse: Jones’ Third Discourse (1786) • Anniversary addresses to the Asiatic Society – First Discourse: purposes and procedures of the Society – Second Discourse: a detailed research program – Third Discourse: on the nations of Asia The five principal nations, who have in different ages divided among themselves, as a kind of inheritance, the vast continent of Asia, with the many islands depending on it, are the Indians, the Chinese, the Tartars, the Arabs, and the Persians; who they severally were, whence and when they came, where they now are settled, and what advantage a more perfect knowledge of them all may bring to our European world, will be shown, I trust, in five distinct essays; the last of which will demonstrate the connexion or diversity between then, and solve the great problem, whether they had any common origin, and whether that origin was the same, which we generally ascribe to them. 2/6/01

Historical context II • In 1786, scholars were still trying to locate the Garden Historical context II • In 1786, scholars were still trying to locate the Garden of Eden, date Jason’s expedition for the golden fleece, etc. • But the idea of language comparison as historical evidence was “in the air” – Catherine the Great (Empress of Russia) made up a list of 286 words, which was sent in 1784 to leaders around the world (including Washington and Franklin) for assistance in gathering translations – In Notes on the State of Virginia (written 1781 -82)Thomas Jefferson cited language comparison as “the best proof of the affinity of nations which ever can be referred to” 2/6/01

How many ages have elapsed since the English, Dutch, the Germans, the Swiss, the How many ages have elapsed since the English, Dutch, the Germans, the Swiss, the Norwegians, Danes and Swedes have separated from their common stock? Yet how many more must elapse before the proofs of their common origin, which exist in their several languages, will disappear? It is to be lamented then … that we have suffered so many of the Indian tribes already to extinguish, without our having previously collected and deposited in the records of literature, the general rudiments at least of the languages they spoke. Were vocabularies formed of all the languages spoken in North and South America, preserving their appellations of the most common objects in nature, of those which must be present to every nation barbarous or civilised, with the inflections of their nouns and verbs, their principles of regimen and concord, and these deposited in all the public libraries, it would furnish opportunities to those skilled in the languages of the old world to compare them with these, now or at a future time, and hence to construct the best evidence of the derivation of this part of the human race. Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia. London 1787. 2/6/01

 • Methods of comparison were not established – accidental or spurious similarities can • Methods of comparison were not established – accidental or spurious similarities can be taken out of context to “show” any desired “relationship” • Hypotheses were often fanciful – e. g. Welsh as one of the Lost Tribes of Israel • Jones was careful about conclusions and evidence: …since I have no system to maintain, and have not suffered imagination to delude my judgment; since I have habituated myself to form opinions of men and things from evidence… I will assert nothing positively, which I am not able satisfactorily to demonstrate. • But his hypotheses were revolutionary! 2/6/01

Jones’ Indo-European Hypothesis The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful Jones’ Indo-European Hypothesis The Sanskrit language, whatever be its antiquity, is of a wonderful structure; more perfect than the Greek; more copious than the Latin, and more exquisitely refined than either, yet bearing to both of them a stronger affinity, both in the roots of verbs and in the forms of grammar, than could possibly have been produced by accident; so strong indeed, that no philologer could examine them all three, without believing them to have sprung from some common source, which, perhaps, no longer exists; there is a similar reason, though not quite so forcible, for supposing that both the Gothick and the Celtick, though blended with a very different idiom, had the same origin with the Sanskrit, and the old Persian might be added to the same family. 2/6/01

Indo-European Examples English father brother Latin pater frater Greek patêr phrater Sanskrit pitar bhratar Indo-European Examples English father brother Latin pater frater Greek patêr phrater Sanskrit pitar bhratar (fellow tribesman) two three four seven 2/6/01 duo tres quattuor septem duo treis tettares hepta dva tryas catvaras sapta

Jones’ methods • Analyst must be “perfectly acquainted” with the languages compared • Meanings Jones’ methods • Analyst must be “perfectly acquainted” with the languages compared • Meanings of proposed cognates must be nearly identical • Vowels should not be disregarded • No metathesis or unexplained consonant insertions • Transliterations must be systematic and careful • Use basic vocabulary, not exotic words more likely to be borrowed 2/6/01

Others were not so careful By a careful inspection of the vocabularies, the reader Others were not so careful By a careful inspection of the vocabularies, the reader will find no difficulty in discovering that in Asia the languages of the … tribes of the Delaware-stock may be all traced to ONE COMMON SOURCE. Nor do I limit this observation to the languages of the American tribes just mentioned… HITHERTO, WE HAVE NOT DISCOVERED IN AMERICA… ANY TWO, OR MORE LANGUAGES BETWEEN WHICH WE ARE INCAPABLE OF DETECTING AFFINITIES (AND THOSE VERY OFTEN STRIKING) EITHER IN AMERICAN, OR IN THE OLD WORLD. New Views of the Origin of the Tribes and Nations of America Benjamin Smith Barton M. D. , Professor of Materia Medica, Natural History and Botany, in the University of Pennsylvania (1798) 2/6/01

Thomas Jefferson disagreed: …imperfect as is our knowledge of the tongues spoken in America, Thomas Jefferson disagreed: …imperfect as is our knowledge of the tongues spoken in America, it suffices to discover the following remarkable fact. Arranging them under the radical ones to which they may be palpably traced, and doing the same by those of the red men of Asia, there will be found probably twenty in America, for one in Asia, of those radical languages, so called because, if they were ever the same, they have lost all resemblance to one another. A separation into dialects may be the work of a few ages only, but for two dialects to recede from one another till they have lost all vestiges of their common origin, must require an immense course of time; perhaps not less than many people give to the age of the earth. A greater number of those radical changes of language having taken place among the red men of America, proves them of greater antiquity than those of Asia. Notes on the State of Virginia, 1787 2/6/01

The controversy continues • (Like Barton) Joseph Greenberg (1987): – All American languages in The controversy continues • (Like Barton) Joseph Greenberg (1987): – All American languages in three groups: • Eskimo-Aleut • Na-Dene • Amerind • (Like Jefferson) Other scholars: – The Amerind category is a fiction – There are • ~60 unrelated families in N. America • ~19 unrelated families in C. America • ~80 unrelated families in S. America 2/6/01

Different methods • Mass comparison – Cognate ratios (lexicostatistics) – Glottochronology – Typological features Different methods • Mass comparison – Cognate ratios (lexicostatistics) – Glottochronology – Typological features • e. g. classifier systems • Comparative reconstruction – Determination of systematic sound laws – Lexical and morphological reconstruction 2/6/01

“Laws” of sound change • Meaning change is usually sporadic • Sound change is “Laws” of sound change • Meaning change is usually sporadic • Sound change is usually systematic, e. g. – t/d deletion (best, past, lost, etc. ) – short a raising (camera, man, vanish, etc. ) • “Neogrammarian hypothesis” (1870): – All sound change is systematic – Apparent exceptions: analysis is incomplete – Article of faith with scholars known as “the young grammarians” 2/6/01

Grimm’s Law • Jakob Grimm (1822) • Gradation of consonant manner bh dh gh Grimm’s Law • Jakob Grimm (1822) • Gradation of consonant manner bh dh gh -> b d g -> p t k -> f th h pater father tres three canis hound labium duo ager bhratar brother dha do vah wagon 2/6/01 lip two acre

Verner’s Law • Karl Adolf Verner (1875) • Fixes “gaps” in Grimm’s Law: – Verner’s Law • Karl Adolf Verner (1875) • Fixes “gaps” in Grimm’s Law: – voicing after accentless vowels – applies to non-Grimm’s Law cases as well – from PIE to Gothic in four algorithmic steps: PIE GL (vowels) VL AS 2/6/01 [email protected]ér [email protected]ér fathár fadár fádar

More on sound change • Well attested in recent history – I. e. English More on sound change • Well attested in recent history – I. e. English Great Vowel Shift • Can study sound change in progress today • Tends to produce tree-like histories. operates on the system as a whole isn’t easily borrowed across languages 2/6/01

Problems with comparative reconstruction • Requires detailed knowledge of languages involved • Must be Problems with comparative reconstruction • Requires detailed knowledge of languages involved • Must be enough cognates for patterns to emerge – and layers of borrowing to be identified and discarded • Maximum time depth of 5 -10 K years – (Jefferson was right) 2/6/01

Cognate percentages • Catherine the Great’s method – make a list of appellations of Cognate percentages • Catherine the Great’s method – make a list of appellations of the most common objects in nature, of those which must be present to every nation barbarous or civilised • Standard lists devised by Morris Swadesh around 1950 – For each pair of languages, estimate the proportion of cognate words • Raw result is a table of percentages – like a table of trip distances 2/6/01

Example Gunu [two lists] 82 Elip 85 90 Mmala [two lists] 78 90 89 Example Gunu [two lists] 82 Elip 85 90 Mmala [two lists] 78 90 89 Yangben[two lists] 77 81 81 88 Baca [two lists] 66 72 72 77 78 Mbule [two lists] 58 63 64 66 70 69 Bati 42 41 42 42 42 46 45 Hijuk [two lists] 39 38 41 38 37 40 41 88 Basaa Central Yambasa languages (Cameroon) 2/6/01

Questions about lexicostatistics • “Genetic descent” vs. borrowing – borrowing creates non-tree structures • Questions about lexicostatistics • “Genetic descent” vs. borrowing – borrowing creates non-tree structures • Variability of rate of change – Swadesh: 14% per millenium • Expected rate of false cognates • How to combine with other evidence • Inference of tree structure – from cognate percentages – from detailed account of shared traits 2/6/01