Credit Points: Three (3)
Contact: Two lectures and 1 tutorial / week
Lecturer: Olga Temple (KD Room 231; email: [email protected]
Prerequisites: 4.11406 – Introduction to Linguistics & 4.21430 – Linguistic Analysis
Comparative linguistics studies the processes of language change and diversification, and tries to figure out the genetic relationships between different languages and reconstruct their no longer spoken ancestors. Historical linguistics examines the changes that take place in the sounds, structures and word meanings of a particular language over time. Both focus on how and why languages change over time.
In this course, we will view language and its behavior through the ‘flexible’ lens of dialectical analysis which has the advantage of both wide-angle and zoom. A quick revision of the ‘basics’ you learned about Human Language in your Introduction to Linguistics course will help us make educated guesses as to the causes (the WHYs) of language change.
We then ‘zoom in’ on changes in the physical structures of language, starting at the basic level of sounds. We first review the hierarchy of sound loudness (sonority), and discuss various types of sound change, its ‘physical’ causes, and learn about how the use of descriptive analysis and the Comparative Method can help us establish genetic relationships between languages and even reconstruct their earlier forms.
Widening our scope, we will then look at smallest meaningful groups of sounds – morphemes – and the smallest units of language (word-meanings). At this stage, we will try to make some generalizations about the general typology of human languages and the sources of linguistic similarity.
Zooming out to ever larger linguistic structures (phrases and sentences), we examine how they are shaped by the very nature of language (by its psycho-physical & socio-historical dualities). We will discuss the multifaceted process of linguistic change, emphasizing the interconnectedness of all its aspects – sound/ morphological/ syntactic/ semantic change, and grammaticalization (a type of change that embodies all of them). Already familiar with the ‘technical’ side of tracking linguistic change, we will make further generalizations about how languages can be classified according to their genetic and typological characteristics.
The final part of the course looks through the WA lens at issues related to language birth, life, including language contact, and death, all in the context of social change. Pidgin and creole languages, particularly with reference to Tok Pisin, will be discussed, along with the emotional issue of the so-called ‘endangered’ languages.
This course explains how and (most importantly!) why languages change in time. The use of the dialectical method of analysis which combines the advantages of both synthesis and analysis, aims to provide the students with a high-resolution 4-D image of language ‘live.’ The understanding of the nature and essence of language, as well as the knowledge of patterns, regularities, and ‘natural’ tendencies in language change will put language systems in ‘historical’ perspective, providing a clearer view of how languages live and die. In particular, this course aims to stimulate the students’ interest in the languages of Papua New Guinea and linguistic enquiry in general.
Upon completion of this course, you will be able to:
· Explain how and why languages change
· Use the Comparative Method and descriptive analysis to determine relationships between languages
· Discuss linguistic typology and the principles of classifying languages.
You should also be able to competently apply this knowledge in your further study of Language.
Crowley, T.: An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. Oxford University Press, 1997
Temple, O.: Genesutra. UPNG Press, 2011
* Lecture notes, PPTs and relevant chapters from Crowley will be available for download on my website www.templeok.com
Assessment: 60% continuous [3 in-course written assignments (3x15 = 45%) + class participation (attendance & summary writing –15%)] and 40% final exam.
Week 1. Human Language vs. animal ‘languages’
Week 2. The physical ‘stuff’ of language – the descriptive approach
Comparative linguistics of 19th century; Linguistic relationships (Crowley Ch. 1)
Beginning sound change: Revision of Phonetic Symbols (Genesutra, Sutra 9, pp. 95-97)
Week 3. Sound Change
· Sound Loss (Aphaeresis, Apocope, Syncope, Cluster Reduction, & Haplology)
· Sound Addition (Excrescence, Epenthesis, Prothesis)
· Metathesis, Fusion, Unpacking, Vowel Breaking
Pawley: On epenthetic vowels in New Guinea Pidgin http://www.langlxmelanesia.com/Epenthetic%20vowels%20in%20New%20Guinea_Pawley.pdf
Week 4. Expressing Sound Change
Week 5. The Comparative Method
Week 6. Practical Analysis
Major Assignment I on types of Sound Change and Comparative Analysis
Week 7. Morphological Change
Sources of linguistic similarity (PPT ‘Sources of Linguistic Similarity’)
Week 8. Grammatical, Semantic, & Lexical Change I
Typology & Grammatical Change (Crowley Ch. 7.1)
Morphological Type: Isolating, Agglutinating & Inflectional/ Synthetic (PPT ‘Morphological Typology’)
Practical morphological analysis.
Week 9. Grammatical, Semantic, & Lexical Change II
Syntactic change: Grammaticalization (PPTs ‘Syntactic Typology’ & ‘Grammaticalization’)
Major Assignment II on Morphological & Syntactic Change
Week 10. Grammatical, Semantic, & Lexical Change III
Semantic Change (Genesutra, Sutra 4, pp. 30-40)
Lexical Change (Crowley, Ch. 7.4)
Week 11. Language Origins & Life
Language Origins (Genesutra, Sutra 2, pp.8-14)
Week 12. Language Death
Causes of Language Death
‘Endangered’ Languages: the future of Tok Ples in Papua New Guinea
Major Assignment III on the causes & types of linguistic change
Week 13. Revision
Week 14. Study Break
Week 15. Exams