The Rise and Fall of Languages

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Cambridge University Press, 11 dic. 1997 - 169 páginas
This book puts forward a new approach to language change, the punctuated equilibrium model. This is based on the premise that during most of the 100,000 or more years that humans have had language, states of equilibrum have existed during which linguistic features diffused across the languages in a given area so that they gradually converged on a common prototype. From time to time, the state of equilibrium would be punctuated, with the expansion and split of peoples and of languages. Most recently, as a result of European colonization and globalization of communication, many languages face imminent extinction.
 

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This book puts forward a new approach to language change, the punctuated equilibrium model. This is based on the premise that during most of the 100,000 or more years that humans have had language, states of equilibrum have existed during which linguistic features diffused across the languages in a given area so that they gradually converged on a common prototype. From time to time, the state of equilibrium would be punctuated, with the expansion and split of peoples and of languages. Most recently, as a result of European colonization and globalization of communication, many languages face imminent extinction. 

Índice

Introduction
1
Preliminaries
7
Linguistic areas and diffusion
15
31 What can diffuse
19
32 Languages in contact
22
The family tree model
28
41 Criteria
30
42 Protolanguages
45
62 Punctuation
73
63 Some examples
85
More on protolanguages
97
Recent history
103
Todays priorities
116
92 Some modern myths
128
93 What every linguist should do
135
Summary and prospects
139

43 Dating
46
44 Subgrouping
49
Modes of change
54
52 Language splitting
58
53 The origin of language
63
The punctuated equilibrium model
67
61 Linguistic equilibrium
68
102 Concerning comparative linguistics
140
103 Concerning descriptive linguistics
143
104 Concerning languages
145
where the comparative method discovery procedure fails
149
References
153
Index
163
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