Start Encyclopedia69 Dictionary | Overview | Topics | Groups | Categories | Bookmark this page.
dictionary -  encyclopedia  
Full text search :        
   A   B   C   D   E   F   G   H   I   J   K   L   M   N   O   P   Q   R   S   T   U   V   W   X   Y   Z   #   



Linguistic Reconstruction

  A major aim in comparative-historical linguistics is to trace the developmental paths followed by a language as it changes over time, in order to reveal the ancestral forms of language from which current, attested forms have emerged. Typically, the historical linguist is faced with the task of reconstructing extinct language forms on the basis of what is known about the way languages change, supplemented by whatever historical evidence is available.

The process of comparative reconstruction assumes that genetically related languages have developed from a common ancestor. Typically, a set of cognates (words from different languages with similar meanings) is compared to determine the systematic differences in their phonological forms. These differences are then attributed to regular processes which transform the sound patterns of a language over time. If independent evidence for a particular sound change is available from independent, well-attested sources, then it is assumed that the same process is applicable in the reconstruction of extinct languages.

The process of internal reconstruction adopts a similar approach, but in this case, the method is applied to a single language. The aim is to show how a single form develops along two separate pathways until two new forms arise in the language. Changes of this kind generally occur when a language develops more than one way of expressing the same meaning. A third method, typological reconstruction, exploits the observation that the presence of one linguistic feature can sometimes provide a reliable indicator that another feature will also be present (see linguistic typology). Consequently, if convincing evidence is found for a particular feature in the extinct language, it is sometimes possible to infer that other specific features must also have been present, even though direct evidence for these latter features may not be available. MS



Bookmark this page:



<< former term
next term >>
Linguistic Relativity


Other Terms : Fabianism | Induction | Genetic Linkage
Home |  Add new article  |  Your List |  Tools |  Become an Editor |  Tell a Friend |  Links |  Awards |  Testimonials |  Press |  News |  About |
Copyright ©2009 GeoDZ. All rights reserved.  Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy  |  Contact Us