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Conference Information

Full Title: Toward Branch-Crossing Isoglosses in Indo-European

Location: Rome, Italy
Start Date: 22-May-2014 - 23-May-2014
Contact: Artemij Keidan
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Invited Speaker:

Alexander Lubotsky, Leiden University

Panel Abstract:

The foundational theory of historical linguistics remains the 'tree model' (Stammbaumtheorie), championed by Neogrammarians in the late 19th century, which posits a genetic relationship between languages and explains linguistic phenomena in terms of inheritance from or divergence from common ancestors. The isogloss is the stock-in-trade of this theory, where it represents a linguistic phenomenon that was inherited from a common ancestor and is shared by a subset of its descendants. The isoglosses, therefore, define the divergent branches of the genetic tree of such family of languages. But there is another kind of isogloss, which we can call a 'convergent isogloss' in contrast to the 'divergent isogloss' of the tree model. The 'convergent isogloss' is a linguistic phenomenon that has not been inherited from a common ancestor, but nevertheless appears in several branches of the tree. This kind of isogloss is more closely associated with the 'wave model' (Wellentheorie), once promoted as an alternative to the tree model by dialectologists, which is concerned with contact between languages rather than their slow divergence from a common source. The tree model has provided Indo-European studies, in particular, with its primary methodology and basic concepts and problems, but it is nevertheless clear that there has been contact between the Indo-European languages throughout their history and that some isoglosses must be considered the effects of contact (convergence) rather than inheritance (divergence). These 'branch-crossing isoglosses' must be included in a general analysis of the development of the Indo-European family of languages.

The present workshop therefore aims at discussing this issue in a programmatic and methodological way. How do we recognize branch-crossing isoglosses? What differentiates them from divergent isoglosses? What role do they have in linguistic reconstruction? Do they have any broader methodological significance for historical linguistics? Can we arrive at a general typology, or even theory, of these isoglosses?

For the complete abstract refer to:

A registration fee of 20 euros, to be paid on arrival, is requested.
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Genetic Classification; Historical Linguistics; Sociolinguistics; Typology
Subject Language Family: Indo-European
LL Issue: 24.4880

This is a session of the following meeting:
Space, Culture, Language and Politics in South Asia: Common Patterns and Local Distinction

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