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Edited by Hans C. Boas and Marc Pierce

This volume consists of revised versions of presentations given at a roundtable on “New Directions for Historical Linguistics: Impact and Synthesis, 50 Years Later” held at the 23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics in San Antonio, Texas, in 2017, as well as an introduction by the editors. The roundtable discussed the evolution of historical linguistics since the 1966 symposium on “Directions for Historical Linguistics,” held in Austin, Texas. Six prominent scholars of historical linguistics and sociolinguistics contributed: William Labov (the only surviving author from the 1968 volume), Gillian Sankoff, Elizabeth Traugott, Brian Joseph, Sarah Thomason, and Paul Hopper (a graduate student assistant at the original symposium).

The Second Canonization of the Qurʾān (324/936)

Ibn Mujāhid and the Founding of the Seven Readings

Shady Nasser

In The Second Canonization of the Qurʾān, Nasser studies the transmission and reception of the Qurʾānic text and its variant readings through the work of Ibn Mujāhid (d. 324/936), the founder of the system of the Seven Eponymous Readings of the Qurʾān. The overarching project aims to track and study the scrupulous revisions the Qurʾān underwent, in its recited, oral form, through the 1,400-year journey towards a final, static, and systematized text.
For the very first time, the book offers a complete and detailed documentation of all the variant readings of the Qurʾān as recorded by Ibn Mujāhid. A comprehensive audio recording accompanies the book, with more than 5,000 audio files of Qurʾānic recitations of variant readings.

The Development of the Biblical Hebrew vowels

Including a Concise Historical Morphology


Benjamin Suchard

The development of the Biblical Hebrew Vowels investigates the sound changes affecting the Proto-Northwest-Semitic vocalic phonemes and their reflexes in Tiberian Biblical Hebrew. Contrary to many previous approaches, Benjamin Suchard shows that these developments can all be described as phonetically regular sound laws. This confirms that despite its unique transmission history, Hebrew behaves like other languages in this regard. Many Hebrew sound changes have traditionally been explained as reflecting non-phonetic conditioning. These include the Canaanite Shift of *ā to *ō, tonic and pre-tonic lengthening, diphthong contraction, Philippi’s Law, the Law of Attenuation, and the apocope of short, unstressed vowels. By reconsidering reconstructions and re-evaluating phonetic conditions, this work shows how the Biblical Hebrew forms regularly derive from their Proto-Northwest-Semitic precursors.

The Precursors of Proto-Indo-European

The Indo-Anatolian and Indo-Uralic Hypotheses


Edited by Alwin Kloekhorst and Tijmen Pronk

In The Precursors of Proto-Indo-European some of the world’s leading experts in historical linguistics shed new light on two hypotheses about the prehistory of the Indo-European language family, the so-called Indo-Anatolian and Indo-Uralic hypotheses. The Indo-Anatolian hypothesis states that the Anatolian branch of the Indo-European family should be viewed as a sister language of ‘classical’ Proto-Indo-European, the ancestor of all the other, non-Anatolian branches. The common ancestor of all Indo-European languages, including Anatolian, can then be called Proto-Indo-Anatolian. The Indo-Uralic hypothesis states that the closest genetic relative of Indo-European is the Uralic language family, and that both derive from a common ancestor called Proto-Indo-Uralic. The book unravels the history of these hypotheses and scrutinizes the evidence for and against them.

Contributors are Stefan H. Bauhaus, Rasmus G. Bjørn, Dag Haug, Petri Kallio, Simona Klemenčič, Alwin Kloekhorst, Frederik Kortlandt, Guus Kroonen, Martin J. Kümmel, Milan Lopuhaä-Zwakenberg, Alexander Lubotsky, Rosemarie Lühr, Michaël Peyrot, Tijmen Pronk, Andrei Sideltsev, Michiel de Vaan, Mikhail Zhivlov.


Edited by David Rood and John Boyle

Robert L. Rankin was a seminal figure in late 20th and early 21st centuries in the field of Siouan linguistics. His knowledge, like the papers he produced, was voluminous. We have gathered here a representation of his work that spans over thirty years. The papers presented here focus on both the languages Rankin studied in depth (Quapaw, Kansa, Biloxi, Ofo, and Tutelo) and comparative historical work on the Siouan language family in general. While many of the papers included have been previously published, one third of them have never before been made public including a grammatical sketch and dictionary of Ofo and his final paper on the place of Mandan in the larger Siouan family.


Ahmad Al-Jallad and Karolina Jaworska

This is the first comprehensive dictionary of the Safaitic inscriptions, comprising more than 1400 lemmata and 1500 lexical items. The dictionary includes a lengthy introduction to the inscriptions as well an outline of various aspects of the Safaitic writing tradition.

Games with names

Naming practices and deliberate language change

Anne Storch


This paper discusses deliberate changes surrounding the practice of naming (people and objects). I first present a discussion of naming and healing, and then turn to the act of naming as an active agent for language change in the context of praise names and names that are used as comments on social change. There are particularly rich areas where the deliberate, creative change of language is strikingly visible, namely in tourism. The analysis of both the deliberate linguistic manipulations and the rationalization of these is informed by African philosophy and local metalinguistic discourse, as part of a project often referred to as the ‘Southern Theory’. I consider the philosophical and theoretical concepts of language and language change that stem from Kenyan and Tanzanian intellectuals and experts who are interested in emic approaches and local epistemologies, emphasizing cultural and social contexts of doing things with words. Intentional language change is seen in this contribution as complex and performative, and is analyzed as the result of individual agency as well as a community’s agreement over what might be done with words.

Matthias Urban


Studies of language contact in the Central Andes of Peru and Bolivia have focused strongly on the present-day contact situation between Quechua and Spanish, and the intricate and multilayered contact relationship between the Quechua and Aymara lineages. There are fewer studies of the influence of Quechua on minor non-Quechua languages of the Andes, and still fewer studies which, conversely, explore the influence of non-Quechua languages on Quechua. Focusing on the lexicon, this article explores the impact of the complex linguistic ecology of Northern Peru on the five Quechua varieties of that region—Lambayeque, Cajamarca, Chachapoyas, San Martín and Ancash Quechua. The study identifies lexical items that lack clear Quechua etymologies in the relevant varieties and carries out external comparisons of these items with the vocabulary of the non-Quechua languages of Northern Peru to identify possible sources. Results show that borrowing is mostly localized: that is, whereas influence from Amazonian lowland languages is almost exclusively found in the eastern varieties of Chachapoyas and San Martín, highland Quechua varieties have typically borrowed from neighboring highland languages.

Peter Bakker


This paper links genderlects and mixed languages. Both may have their roots in a gender dichotomy, where two distinct populations come together and blend into a new one, with different linguistic consequences. Mixed languages are generally assumed to be the result of deliberate or conscious language change and often come about as the result of an act of identity, connected to the birth of a new social or ethnic group. Societies or ethnic groups that are the result of mixed marriages may develop a mixed language or a genderlect. I show that there is a connection between the two, as proven in one specific case: a mixed language developed into a genderlect over several centuries. Typically, mixed languages combine elements from two languages with results that are so unusual that they are clearly not the result of normal language change, i.e. they are not outcomes of regular transmission between generations. Certain combinations found in genderlects show parallel patterns, for example in having personal pronouns or deictic elements that derive from other languages. Comparative evidence based on structural parallels suggests that some such genderlects (though not necessarily all) derive from deliberate changes by earlier generations. In this paper, I also investigate whether there is a link between societies with socially quite different roles for men and women, and societies with a genderlect, and find that such a link does not seem to exist.