Genetic Linguistics: Essays on Theory and Method

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OUP Oxford, Mar 17, 2005 - Social Science - 460 pages
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This book collects Joseph Greenberg's most important writings on the genetic classification of the world's languages. Fifty years ago Joseph Greenberg put forward the now widely accepted classification of African languages. This book charts the progress of his subsequent work on language classification in Oceania, the Americas, and Eurasia,in which he proposed the language families Indo-Pacific, Amerind and Eurasiatic. It shows how he established and deployed three fundamental principles: that the most reliable evidence for genetic classification is the pairing of sound and meaning; that nonlinguistic evidence, such as skin colour or cultural traits, should be excluded from the analysis; and that the vocabulary and inflections of a very large number of languages should be simultaneously compared. The volume includes Joseph Greenberg's substantive contributions to the debate his work provoked and concludes with his writings on the links between genetic linguistics and human history. William Croft's introduction focuses on the substance and the development of Professor Greenberg's thought and research within the context of the discussion they stimulated. He also includes a bibliography of scholarly reactions to and developments of Joseph Greenberg's work and a comprehensive bibliography of his publications in books and journals.

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About the author (2005)


Joseph H.Greenberg (1915-2001) was one of the twentieth-century's most original and influential linguists. He was Professor of Linguistics at Stanford University, 1962-85, where he was also Director of the African Languages and Area Center, 1967-78. His books include The Languages of Africa (1963), Anthropological Linguistics (1968) Language Typology: A Historical and Analytic Overview (1974), Language in the Americas (1987), and Indo-European and its Closest Relatives: The Eurasiatic Language Family (2000/2002).
William Croft received his Ph.D. in linguistics at Stanford University in 1986. His publications include Typology and Universals (1990), Syntactic Categories and Grammatical Relations (1991), Studies in Typology and Diachrony (coedited with Keith Denning and Suzanne Kemmer, 1990), Explaining Language Change: An Evolutionary Approach (2000), and a large number of scholarly articles. His current research areas include syntax, semantics, typology, and historical linguistics. Forthcoming books include Cognitive Linguistics (with D. Alan Cruse) and Verbs: Aspect and Argument Structure.

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