Language in the Americas

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Stanford University Press, 1987 - Foreign Language Study - 438 pages
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This book is concerned primarily with the evidence for the validity of a genetic unit, Amerind, embracing the vast majority of New World languages. The only languages excluded are those belonging to the Na-Dene and Eskimo- Aleut families. It examines the now widely held view that Haida, the most distant language genetically, is not to be included in Na-Dene. It confined itself to Sapir's data, although the evidence could have been buttressed considerably by the use of more recent materials. What survives is a body of evidence superior to that which could be adduced under similar restrictions for the affinity of Albanian, Celtic, and Armenian, all three universally recognized as valid members of the Indo-European family of languages. A considerable number of historical hypotheses emerge from the present and the forthcoming volumes. Of these, the most fundamental bears on the question of the peopling of the Americas. If the results presented in this volume and in the companion volume on Eurasiatic are valid, the classification of the world's languages based on genetic criteria undergoes considerable simplification.

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Unity and Bounds of Amerind
The Subgroups of Amerind
Amerind Etymological Dictionary
Grammatical Evidence for Amerind
The NaDene Problem
Conclusions and Overview
Recoverable Vocabulary Based on the Joos Function
Cognate Distributions and True Classifications
Distribution of the Amerind Etymologies
Summary of the Classification
Language Families of the New World
Index to the Amerind Etymologies
General Index

A A Generalization of Glottochronology to n Languages

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About the author (1987)

Joseph H. Greenberg, May 28, 1915 - May 7, 2001 Joseph H. Greenberg was born on May 28, 1915 in Brooklyn, New York to a Polish immigrant father who owned a pharmacy, but lost it in the Depression. His mother was German, the language that a young Joseph grew up with. Greenberg may have had a career as a professional pianist if he had stayed with it. But while attending Columbia University, Greenberg decided to become a social anthropologists, doing field work on the religion of the Hausa-speaking people of West Africa. He received his Ph. D. from Northwestern University in 1940. After college, Greenberg entered the Army Signal Intelligence Service, decoding Italian signals. It was through this that he realized he wanted to devote his life to the study of linguistics. He returned to Columbia University where he remained from 1948 to 1962, becoming chairman of the anthropology department. From Columbia, Greenberg went on to Stanford, from which he retired from in 1985, but continued to work through til a few months before his death. Greenberg is best known for his attempts to trace relationships among the world's 5,000 languages. Greenberg's major works include his classification of the 1,500 languages of Africa into four groups which was published in 1955. He then assigned the languages of North and South America into three groups in a work entitled "Language in the Americas", published in 1987. Before he died, Greenberg was working on the languages of Asia, a project he was never able to finish. Joseph Greenberg died on May 7, 2001 in Stanford, California from cancer. He was 85.

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