Historical Linguistics and Language Change

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Cambridge University Press, Apr 3, 1997 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 423 pages
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Language change happens in the spatio-temporal world. Historical linguistics is the craft linguists exercise upon its results, in order to tell coherent stories about it. In a series of linked essays Roger Lass here offers a critical survey of the foundations of the art of historical linguistics, and its interaction with its subject matter, language change, taking as his background some of the major philosophical issues which arise from these considerations. The paradoxical conclusion is that our historiographical methods are often better than the data they have to work with.
 

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Contents

time travel and signal processing
1
The past the present and the historian
4
historical understanding and the problem of synchrony
9
witnesses and interpretation
16
reconstruction
21
the role of uniformity constraints
24
16 Metaphor and access
32
17 Metaphor and metalanguage
41
42 Homoplasy vs plesiomorphy
173
43 Contact
184
44 Endogeny vs contact as a methodological issue
207
contact with lost languages
209
The nature of reconstruction
215
52 Projection vs mapping
216
53 Internal reconstruction
232
54 Chronology and sequence
241

18 Summary
42
Written records evidence and argument
44
22 Hearing the inaudible
45
23 What do texts represent? Variation and état de langue
61
rhyme and metre
68
25 Metalinguistic evidence
78
26 What is a word anyhow? Or a sentence or text?
93
interpreting vs disappearing
96
Relatedness ancestry and comparison
104
how are families possible?
109
33 Replication and shared errors
111
34 Cladistic concepts in language filiation
113
35 Homoplasy
118
36 Sound laws cognateness and families
123
37 Problems and pseudoproblems
139
the hypertaxon problem
159
39 Nonphonological evidence for relationship
169
Convergence and contact
172
55 Morphosyntactic reconstruction
246
realism in reconstruction
270
Time and change the shapes of history
277
when is a change?
281
63 Linguistic time
290
64 The emergence of novelty
305
Explanation and ontology
325
72 In which the author revisits an earlier self and is not entirely satisfied by what he sees but not entirely repentant
332
73 Hermeneutic explication
336
hermeneutics and the individualist error
352
structure pragmatics and invisible hands
366
76 A modest ontological proposal
370
77 Envoi
384
References
391
Index of names
416
Subject index
420
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