An Introduction to Historical Linguistics Fourth Edition The late Terry Crowley and Claire Bowern considerably updated edition of a popular text contains data from a wide variety of less-commonly-quoted languages An Introduction to Historical Linguistics Fourth Edition The late Terry Crowley and Claire Bowern Description All languages change, just as other aspects of human society are constantly changing. This book is an introduction to the concepts and techniques of diachronic linguistics, the study of language change over time. It covers all themajor areas of historical linguistics, presenting concepts in a clear and concise way. Examples are given from a wide range of languages, with special emphasis on the languages of Australia and the Pacific. While the needs of undergraduate students of linguistics have been kept firmly in mind, the book will also be of interest to the general reader seeking to understand langauge and language change. For this fourth edition, a number of new sections have been written, including many new problems and several datasets.

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However, I will review the fourth edition since it has covered many areas in comparison with the third edition. I should note that Terry Crowley is the only author of the third edition, while both Terry Crowley and Clair Bowern are the authors of the fourth edition. Contents: Chapter 1: Introduction The first chapter introduces the reader to the nature of linguistic relationships, and to the ideas of langue and parole by I have read the two editions for the same textbook i.

Contents: Chapter 1: Introduction The first chapter introduces the reader to the nature of linguistic relationships, and to the ideas of langue and parole by Ferdinand de Saussure. The notions of diachrony and synchrony are covered. The concept of protolanguage, family tree, and different reasons for language change including anatomy, ethnicity, climate, geography, substratum, local identification, functional need, simplification, and structural pressure are covered.

Finally, a brief sketch of attitudes towards language change is covered. Chapter 2: Types of Sound Change Crowley and Bowern turn now to different phonological processes relative to sound change. They mainly covered lenition, fortition, sound loss, sound addition, metathesis, fusion, fission, breaking, assimilation, dissimilation, and tone changes. Chapter 3: Expressing Sound Changes The third chapter starts with the difference between conditioned change and unconditioned change.

Then, relevant mathematical rules are introduced to illustrate sound changes. Ordering of rules, which demonstrates the order of sound changes, is covered. These rules enable readers to translate sound changes and their chronological order. Chapter 4: Phonetic and Phonemic Change The authors introduce briefly the notions of phonetic and phonemic change in addition to examples. This chapter illustrates the interaction between these two types of sound change.

Chapter 5: The Comparative Method 1 : Procedures Comparative method is the widely used tool amongst historical linguists. Comparative method is highly trusted and practiced despite the spread of new methods that involve computer programming. Sound correspondences and their role in reconstruction are covered. The technique of comparative method is applied to Proto-Polynesian, as an example.

Afterwards, a succinct description of the concept of reconstruction of conditioned sound change is provided. The reality of the notion of protolanguage is discussed very briefly at the end of the chapter. Chapter 6: Determining Relatedness This chapter turns to the process of finding families and subgrouping. Shared innovation is a sign of language change, whereas shared retention is not.

The idea of long-distance protolanguages applies through two processes: comparing protolanguages and mass comparison. Since the concept of protolanguages is an abstract and not real i. So far as mass comparison is concerned, since it is based on relaxation of strict comparison, it will not have accurate results due to the impossibility of distinguishing cognates.

Chapter 7: Internal Reconstruction Synchronic alternations are the basic resource for reconstructing a prelanguage. The authors provide examples with respect to Indo-European laryngeals. This method is limited to a few cases. For instance, when a comparative method cannot be applied because the language has no relatives; when the comparative method cannot reveal sufficient information because the language is very distantly related to the protolanguage; when the information needed involves changes occurred between the reconstructed language and the protolanguage.

The authors supply instructions in terms of applying the internal reconstruction. Chapter 8: Computational and Statistical Methods The distinction between innovation-based and distance-based methods is very briefly covered.

The first one deals with the sound correspondences, while the latter deals with the relationship between daughter languages. The concept of lexicostatistics is included along with concepts such as core vocabulary and subgrouping. Also, the influence of biology on historical linguistics is clear through terminology borrowing and methodologically similar application. Chapter 9: Comparative Method 2 : History and Challenges The authors introduce a very brief historical sketch of the emergence of the comparative method.

There are challenges in terms of application. For instance, it is not easy to eliminate borrowing words. Also, unconditioned sound change is hard to assign its original correspondence. The Neogrammarian view, which claims that sound change is regular and systematic, is included. The difference between the wave model and lexical diffusion is covered. Chapter Morphological Change This chapter introduces changes relevant to the morphological structure.

There are some significant aspects that involve morphological change; for instance, allomorphic change, boundary shifts, and doubling and reinforcement. Additionally, morphological change applies to the order of morphemes. Analogy is another morphological process that leads to change —it has three types: analogical change by meaning, analogical change by form, and analogical extension and leveling. Techniques and tools for morphological reconstruction are covered. Chapter Semantic and Lexical Change Semantic categories such as amelioration, pejoration, broadening, narrowing, bifurcation, and shift are covered.

Some semantic processes influence the notion of unidirectionality —such processes include metaphor, euphemism, hyperbole, interference, folk etymology, and hypercorrection. This chapter includes the fact that lexical change involves borrowing, internal lexical innovation, and shortening. There must be some consequences regarding the processes of borrowing and lexical change that are considered as obstacles for comparative method.

It is more difficult to reconstruct a language that has a number of borrowing words. The authors draw a line between the two concepts: borrowing and copying. The first one implies that the word may return back to its original language which is not true, while the second does not. Chapter Syntactic Change There are a number of syntactic change processes. The typological differences as well as the cycle of change are included. Typological change involves mainly word order, whereas grammatical change involves grammatical categories.

The direction of grammatical change is expected to occur in one direction i. This chapter covers the mechanisms of syntactic change.

That is, it involves the processes of reanalysis, analogy, extension, diffusion, and borrowing. Chapter Observing Language Change Although there is a general consensus among historical linguists that language change cannot be observed, recent sociolinguistic studies show that it can be noticed. There are some difficulties with respect to determining the kind of change; for instance, it is hard to consider some stylistic variations as change in progress.

Also, class-based variation and variation in small communities are variables and based on social and economic circumstances. This chapter deals with the concept of language genesis including pidgins and creoles. They provide a definition that may run counter to the majority of definitions. That is, they maintain the existence of a creole language without any prior existence of a pidgin language. Tok Pisin is provided in the case study, for example.

So far as mixed languages are concerned, they borrow the structure from one language and the vocabulary from another. Chapter Cultural Reconstruction The concept of cultural reconstruction is part of historical linguistics as long as words are involved. Other scientific fields may lend hand to historical linguistics, such as geology, archeology, and anthropology. The method of comparative culture is applied in this domain.

A few examples from different cultures are covered. On the basis of cultural reconstruction, we can determine the homeland of people according the age-area hypothesis. The concepts paleolinguistics and language origins are exclusively included in this edition. Methods of cultural reconstruction are covered. Evaluation This book is intended as an introduction to the central tenets of historical linguistics. A number of methods and theories are included.

I have found this book to be a very good introduction to historical linguistics. However, I would not recommend this book for any one who lacks a good background in historical linguistics since it has many typos, which interfere with understanding the text. Moreover, the exercises have typos that make them impossible to solve unless you can make a good guess and solve the typo first.

The brevity of sections does not contribute to the comprehension of the text. There should be another text available to guide the reader through an accurate understanding. In fact, the latter has many examples and detailed explanation even though it does not address many areas covered by Crowley and Bowern. Therefore, I do not recommend this book, on its own, as a sufficient source in historical linguistics.


An Introduction to Historical Linguistics

PDF Send by e-mail 1This introductory textbook on historical linguistics is pages long, including an introduction, 15 chapters, data sets, notes and references. This is the fourth edition of a work originally published in by Terry Crowley. Claire Bowern updates, corrects and enlarges the scope of the original work, which was concerned primarily with linguistic data from Oceania and Australia, by adding data from other languages beyond this scope. It provides a thorough introduction to diachronic sound change and methods of analysis. It also introduces other topics such as morphological, semantic and syntactic change. Its informal style makes the book easy and pleasant to read, while keeping a high degree of precision and introducing technical terminology on the subject.


Terry Crowley (linguist)




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