Historical Linguistics and Language Change

Overview

Language change happens in the spatio-temporal world. Historical linguistics is the craft linguists exercise upon its results, in order to tell coherent stories about it. In a series of linked essays Roger Lass here offers a critical survey of the foundations of the art of historical linguistics, and its interaction with its subject matter, language change, taking as his background some of the major philosophical issues which arise from these considerations. The paradoxical conclusion is that our ...
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Overview

Language change happens in the spatio-temporal world. Historical linguistics is the craft linguists exercise upon its results, in order to tell coherent stories about it. In a series of linked essays Roger Lass here offers a critical survey of the foundations of the art of historical linguistics, and its interaction with its subject matter, language change, taking as his background some of the major philosophical issues which arise from these considerations. The paradoxical conclusion is that our historiographical methods are often better than the data they have to work with.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"This is a useful and engaging book, discussing and illustrating principles of historical linguistics primarily with Indo-European examples." Keith Slater, Notes on Linguistics

"...this is a very learned, logically reasoned and very valuable book--the work of an outstanding historical linguist who has extraordinarily wide-ranging interests and a formidable memory. It is enjoyable reading....this is a work of impressive scholarship..." James Milroy, Diachronica

"...the book contains much of interst to students of language change at all levels. His examples and demonstrations of method would be of great value to newcomers to the field and, indeed, any of us can admire such perfect elucidation." Canadian Journal of Linguistics

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521453080
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 4/3/1997
  • Series: Studies in Linguistics
  • Pages: 447
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Conventions, abbreviations and symbols
General prologue: time travel and signal processing 1
1 The past, the present and the historian 4
2 Written records: evidence and argument 44
3 Relatedness, ancestry and comparison 104
4 Convergence and contact 172
5 The nature of reconstruction 215
6 Time and change: the shapes of history 277
7 Explanation and ontology 325
References 391
Index of names 416
Subject index 420
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