- Tapa blanda: 374 páginas
- Editor: Univ of Chicago Pr; Edición: Revised (1 de junio de 1999)
- Idioma: Inglés
- ISBN-10: 0226580571
- ISBN-13: 978-0226580579
- Valoración media de los clientes: Sé el primero en opinar sobre este producto
- Clasificación en los más vendidos de Amazon: nº245.087 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros (Ver el Top 100 en Libros en idiomas extranjeros)
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Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time (Inglés) Tapa blanda – 1 jun 1999
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This volume proposes means of describing, comparing, and interpreting linguistic diversity, both genetic and structural, providing the foundations for a theory of diversity based upon popular science.
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Although the number of features analysed is extremely small compared to the vast World Atlas of Language Structures, thye are analysed with considerably more detail and more effort is developed to connect them. For example,
- head marking at the phrase level implies it at the clause level without exception
- the presence of grammatical gender relates to high complexity in terms of number of morphological markers per sentence
- verb-initial order correlates with the presence of abundant head marking on verbs
- stative/active alignment occurs only in head-marking languages
The book also offers a surprisingly detailed analysis of how languages spread and evolve. Nichols shows that in a small number of "spread zones", a single language family dominates, and that this lack of competitiveness causes (or can cause) highly marked features that would not survive in a linguistically more "competitive" environment to flourish. "Residual zones", mainly found on coasts with rich fisheries or in high mountain areas, have high linguistic diversity but tend to confirm to a standard profile of verb-final order and relatively high complexity. In "spread zones", by contrast, other profiles often occur, and the profile of a "spread zone" frequently changes whenever a new family moves through it.
As a bonus, Nichols offers a great many interesting suggestions as to how various regions of the world would have appeared in the distant past. Her knowledge of the ancient languages of the Near East is sufficiently advanced that she can make some highly reasonable but surprising conclusions about, for instance, pre-Indo-European Europe. More interesting still is her suggestion that the recently colonised areas of the Americas and New Guinea represent a much more "primordial" linguistic state than the Old World, where the existence of domesticable animals has increased the intensity of linguistic spreads. Her data, though, do, like WALS, just show how removed the world's major languages are from the typical traits of human language. As an amateur social scientist, I find this remarkably interesting and relevant.
All in all, for those who cannot afford the full book version of WALS, I would wholeheartedly recommed "Linguistic Diversity in Space and Time" though it provides nothing like the same number of features.
There is a special emphasis on identifying stable features, ones that persist in an area over many tens of thousands of years. Nichols makes astonishing claims about the antiquity of the geographical distributions that she has found. Most go back to long before the most recent glacial maximum! I actually find her claims that certain stable features have been maintained in the same areas for many tens of thousands of years as quite convincing.
Concentrating on features isolated by Klimov has had some very beneficial effects. For one thing, it avoids the arbitrary division of linguistic areas by continent. The areas that appear in this study are mostly centered around both sides of the Pacific and Old and New World areas turn out to be grouped together. Europe and non-Pacific Asia are not assigned a central position. However, the choice of features had the drawback that Africa is not well characterized.
In endeavoring to isolate processes that produce patterns of diversity that show great stability over time, I think that Nichols has neglected some mechanisms of linguistic change which she regards as operating in the short run. One of these is the tendency of languages or dialects that are spoken near each other to influence each other's inner structural development without one language or dialect replacing the other. I suspect that Nichols regards these effects as likely to be effaced in the long course of history by cycles of migration and language replacement. However, if instead of thinking of these contact processes as operating betweein individual language and dialects within limited areas, one imagines them operating over vast areas along the borders of typologically different populations, one can see that it is theoretically possible for these processes to produce geographical distributions that are stable over vast expanses of time. To my eyes, the very large scale geographical patterns that Nichols identifies around the Pacific look like greatly magnified linguistic maps of areas of dialect contact within a single language. The possibility that language contact operates over millenia and on a global scale should definitely be considered,