Manual The Prehistory of Language

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Language English German. Usque ad Radices Mailhammer, Robert , Theo Vennemann gen. The Linguistic Roots of Europe This innovation is one of several sound changes shared by a number of the languages of Malaita and San Cristobal Makira Islands in the southeast Solomons, indicating that they form a genetic subgroup, i.

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Comparative linguists use various techniques to work out the probable directions of phonetic change: some sound changes are generally known to be unidirectional e. The Comparative Method produces several kinds of result in addition to subgrouping. Firstly and we return to this in the section on kinds of subgroups different kinds of subgroup, with different kinds of history, can be identified.

Secondly, reconstructed vocabulary, and especially reconstructed terminologies, can illuminate the culture and environment of the people who used them. And thirdly, like other scholars, linguists assume that dispersal centres are most likely to be in the areas of greatest genetic diversity. Thus, if there are two primary subgroups in a family which occupy contiguous geographical areas, the most likely dispersal centre is around the geographic seam.

Prehistory of Language - Oxford Scholarship

One thing that comparative linguists cannot do is to provide absolute dating of the linguistic splits posited in a family tree hypothesis. Reconstructing sequences of putative splits provides only relative chronologies. Chapter 3. Andrew Pawley, Malcolm Ross. Some questions.

How solid is the integrity of the Oceanic subgroup? What was the culture of Proto-Oceanic speakers like? What was the order of genetic splits among the languages of the Oceanic subgroup?


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Where were Proto-Oceanic and later interstage languages spoken? How did Proto-Oceanic and later interstage languages break up? Is a recurrent pattern discernible?

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Why have some Oceanic languages of Melanesia changed much more than others? How and why did Proto-Oceanic culture change in the daughter communities? The Comparative Method. Papua New Guinea north coast. Papua New Guinea south coast. Bismarck Archipelago. Southeast Solomon Islands.