Historical and Areal Linguistics

McLaughlin presents at Philological Society

October 13, 2021

Mairi McLaughlin will be giving a talk at the Philological Society at 8:15am on Friday, October 22, called "The Early French Press: Examining a New Text Type in Historical Linguistics."

On the Pre-Columbian origin of Proto-Omagua-Kokama

Lev Michael

Cabral (1995, 2007, 2011) and Cabral and Rodrigues (2003) established that Kokama and Omagua, closely-related indigenous languages spoken in Peruvian and Brazilian Amazonia, emerged as the result of intense language contact between speakers of a Tupí-Guaraní language and speakers of non-Tupí-Guaraní languages. Cabral (1995, 2007) further argued that the language contact which led to the development of Kokama and Omagua transpired in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, in the Jesuit mission settlements located in the provincia de Maynas (corresponding roughly to modern northern...

The evolution of subject-verb agreement in Eastern Tukanoan

Thiago Costa Chacon
Lev Michael

This article describes the evolution of past/perfective subject-verb agreement morphology in the Tukanoan family, reconstructing relevant aspects of Proto-Tukanoan verbal morphology and delineating the subsequent diachronic development of verbal subject agreement morphology in the Eastern branch of the family. We argue that suffixes that cumulatively expone past/perfective and person, number, and gender (PNG) subject agreement resulted from the fusion of post-verbal demonstratives/pronouns expressing PNG information with suffixes expressing past/perfective TAM information. We propose...

Computational Phylogenetics and the Classification of South American Languages

Lev Michael
Natalia Chousou-Polydouri

In recent years, South Americanist linguists have embraced computational phylogenetic methods to resolve the numerous outstanding questions about the genealogical relationships among the languages of the continent. We provide a critical review of the methods and language classification results that have accumulated thus far, emphasizing the superiority of character-based methods over distance-based ones, and the importance of developing adequate comparative datasets for producing well-resolved classifications.

A Privative Derivational Source for Standard Negation in Lokono (Arawakan)

Konrad Rybka
Lev Michael

It has recently been argued that Arawakan languages of South America provide evidence for a novel historical source for standard negation, a privative derivational affix. This hypothesis posits that the prefixal standard negation found in some languages of the family developed from a privative prefix, ma-, present in Proto-Arawakan, that originally derived privative stative verbs from nouns. According to this account, the function of this prefix extended, in many languages of the family, to negating nominalized verbs in subordinate clauses, and then, via...

Phylogenetic Classification Supports a Northeastern Amazonian Proto-Tupí-Guaraní Homeland

Zachary O'Hagan
Natalia Chousou-Polydouri
Lev Michael

The question of where Proto-Tupí-Guaraní (PTG) was spoken has been a point of considerable debate. Both northeastern and southwestern Amazonian homelands having been proposed, with evidence from both archaeology and linguistic classification playing key roles in this debate. In this paper we demonstrate that the application of linguistic migration theory to a recent phylogenetic classification of the Tupí-Guaraní family lends strong support to a northeastern Amazonian homeland.

The classification of South American languages

Lev Michael

With some 108 independent genealogical units, South America is the linguistically most diverse region of our planet and presents a particular challenge to linguists seeking to understand the genealogical relationships among human languages. Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in the internal classification of South American language families, and this article provides a critical overview of research in this very active area, focusing on the seven largest language families of the continent: Arawakan, Cariban, Jê, Panoan, Quechuan, Tukanoan, and Tupian. The strengths and...

Beguš publishes in Phonology

March 2, 2021

Congratulations to Gašper Beguš on the publication of his article "Estimating historical probabilities of natural and unnatural processes" in Phonology! Click here to download the article (Open Access).

Elias gives plenary talk at APLL13

February 24, 2021

Congratulations to Alexander Elias, who has been invited to give an hour-long "Early Career Researcher Plenary Talk" at the 13th International Austronesian and Papuan Languages and Linguistics Conference (APLL13) hosted remotely by the University of Edinburgh on June 10-12, 2021. The title of his talk is "Phonemic Initial Glottal Stops in the Lesser Sundas: The Emergence and Spread of an Areal Sound Pattern."