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Research on Macrofamilies: The States of the Art Bernard Comrie Max Planck Institute for Research on Macrofamilies: The States of the Art Bernard Comrie Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and University of California Santa Barbara [email protected] mpg. de

African Macrofamilies • • Afroasiatic Niger-Congo Nilo-Saharan Khoisan African Macrofamilies • • Afroasiatic Niger-Congo Nilo-Saharan Khoisan

Niger-Congo • Mande - inclusion questionable • Kordofanian - inclusion of Kadugli widely rejected, Niger-Congo • Mande - inclusion questionable • Kordofanian - inclusion of Kadugli widely rejected, may be Nilo-Saharan • Atlantic - may not be a unit, some parts may not be Niger-Congo • Bulk of phylum generally accepted

Nilo-Saharan • Lower-level groupings generally accepted, higher-level groupings questionable • Songhai - almost universally Nilo-Saharan • Lower-level groupings generally accepted, higher-level groupings questionable • Songhai - almost universally excluded

Khoisan • Hadza - no clear relation • Sandawe - possibly related to Central Khoisan • Hadza - no clear relation • Sandawe - possibly related to Central • South African Khoisan – Central - no clear relation to N, S – Northern - no clear relation to Southern – Southern - no clear relation to Northern – ≠Hõa may be related to Northern

Family Tree Problems • Presupposes “parthenogenesis” • Areal spread of innovations (“Wave theory”) • Family Tree Problems • Presupposes “parthenogenesis” • Areal spread of innovations (“Wave theory”) • Loans from other languages

Wave Theory • • • “Rhenish Fan” in Germany North: maken dorp dat Cologne: Wave Theory • • • “Rhenish Fan” in Germany North: maken dorp dat Cologne: machen dorp dat Koblenz: machen dorf dat Frankfurt: machen dorf das South: machen dorf das appel apfel

 • Indo-Iranian: dative plural in bh; shift of *kj to s • Balto-Slavic: • Indo-Iranian: dative plural in bh; shift of *kj to s • Balto-Slavic: dative plural in m; shift of *kj to s • Germanic: dative plural in m; no shift of *kj to s

Multiple Origins / Language Contact • Possible definition of genealogical relatedness of languages: Two Multiple Origins / Language Contact • Possible definition of genealogical relatedness of languages: Two languages descend from a common ancestor if a substantial portion of basic vocabulary, (inflectional) morphology (if present), and syntax descend from that ancestor.

 • Frequent, but usually tacit assumption, that there is a hierarchy: Morphology > • Frequent, but usually tacit assumption, that there is a hierarchy: Morphology > Basic vocabulary > Syntax Cf. Comrie on Haruai (in relation to Hagahai and Kobon), comparing morphology and basic vocabulary

Basic Vocabulary Loans • Thai càmùuk ‘nose’ < Khmer crɑmoh, cf. forms like daŋ, Basic Vocabulary Loans • Thai càmùuk ‘nose’ < Khmer crɑmoh, cf. forms like daŋ, laŋ, naŋ in other Tai languages • English they, them, their

Morphological Loans • English loans from Latin / Greek retaining original number morphology: – Morphological Loans • English loans from Latin / Greek retaining original number morphology: – criterion – crisis – syllabus – formula criteria crises syllabi / syllabuses formulae / formulas

 • Romani singular / plural morphology – Inherited: kher, PL kher-a ‘house’; šer-o, • Romani singular / plural morphology – Inherited: kher, PL kher-a ‘house’; šer-o, PL šer-e ‘head’; no plural in -i – Early Greek loans introduce type for-os (in many varieties > for-o), PL for-i ‘town’ – Other contact languages introduce other plural markers, e. g. -uri < Rumanian, even with older words (some varieties have for-uri)

 • Copper Island (Mednyj) Aleut has Aleut basic vocabulary and nominal morphology, but • Copper Island (Mednyj) Aleut has Aleut basic vocabulary and nominal morphology, but Russian verb morphology, even for inherited verbs: aba-ju ‘I work’ aba-im ‘we work’ aba-iš ‘you work’ aba-iti ‘you (PL) work’ aba-it ‘s/he works’ aba-jut ‘they work’

Syntactic Loans • Takia has Austronesian vocabulary and morphology, but the same grammatical structure Syntactic Loans • Takia has Austronesian vocabulary and morphology, but the same grammatical structure as its Papuan neighbor Waskia. • Haitian Creole has French vocabulary and either West African or “universal” syntax.

Regular Sound Correspondences • Important: Traditional historical linguists Starostin / Russian school • Unimportant: Regular Sound Correspondences • Important: Traditional historical linguists Starostin / Russian school • Unimportant: Greenberg / Ruhlen

Opaque but Regular Correspondences • French fils /fis/, Spanish hijo /'ixo/ ‘son’ • German Opaque but Regular Correspondences • French fils /fis/, Spanish hijo /'ixo/ ‘son’ • German fünf, Russian pjatj, Armenian hing ‘five’ < Proto-Indo-European *penkwe • Mbabaram dog ‘dog’ < Proto-Australian *gudaga

Exceptions to the Regularity of Sound Change • Latin quinque ‘five’ for expected *pinque Exceptions to the Regularity of Sound Change • Latin quinque ‘five’ for expected *pinque • French cinq /sɛ k/ for expected /kɛ k/ • English she /šiː/ < Old English sēo for expected */siː/; probable developments: siːo > sjoː > šuː (dialect form) > siːe > sjeː > šiː

Explanations for Similarities • • Common ancestry Borrowing Naturalness (e. g. onomatopoeia) Chance Explanations for Similarities • • Common ancestry Borrowing Naturalness (e. g. onomatopoeia) Chance

Eliminating Chance • English German • • • Arm Finger Hand Lippe Nase arm Eliminating Chance • English German • • • Arm Finger Hand Lippe Nase arm finger hand lip nose y y y

 • English German • • • Finger Hand Lippe Nase Arm arm finger • English German • • • Finger Hand Lippe Nase Arm arm finger hand lip nose n n n

Loanword Typology Project • To study patterns of lexical borrowing across a number of Loanword Typology Project • To study patterns of lexical borrowing across a number of languages from different language families, to ascertain in particular if certain lexical items (relating to particular semantic fields, or particularly basic items) are less prone to borrowing than others.

Some Successes • “Borderline” convincing cases – Altaic (or at least some branches thereof) Some Successes • “Borderline” convincing cases – Altaic (or at least some branches thereof) – Indo-European and Uralic – (Narrow) Trans-New Guinea

 • Yeniseic (western Siberia) and Na-Dene (northwestern North America) – a few dozen • Yeniseic (western Siberia) and Na-Dene (northwestern North America) – a few dozen possible plausible cognates – very similar, complex, unusual verb morphology, though similarities could be typological (? contact rather than common ancestor) (work by Edward Vajda)