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Systematic typological comparison as a tool for investigating language history
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Languages, Department of Linguistics and Philology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5349-5252
2012 (English)In: Language Documentation & Conservation, ISSN 1934-5275, E-ISSN 1934-5275, no 5, 34-71 p.Article in journal (Refereed) PublishedText
Abstract [en]

Similarities between languages can be due to 1) homoplasies because of a limited design space, 2) common ancestry, and 3) contact-induced convergence. Typological or structural features cannot prove genealogy, but they can provide historical signals that are due to common ancestry or contact (or both). Following a brief summary of results obtained from the comparison of 160 structural features from 121 languages (Reesink, Singer & Dunn 2009), we discuss some issues related to the relative dependencies of such features: logical entailment, chance resemblance, typological dependency, phylogeny and contact. This discussion focusses on the clustering of languages found in a small sample of 11 Austronesian and 8 Papuan languages of eastern Indonesia, an area known for its high degree of admixture.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. no 5, 34-71 p.
Keyword [en]
Book Chapter
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-280553OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-280553DiVA: diva2:911282

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Available from: 2016-03-11 Created: 2016-03-11 Last updated: 2016-04-07

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