LINGUIST List 15.887

Mon Mar 15 2004

Sum: Genetic and Areal Classification

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. Marie Klopfenstein, Genetic and Areal Classification

Message 1: Genetic and Areal Classification

Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2004 15:45:22 -0500 (EST)
From: Marie Klopfenstein <>
Subject: Genetic and Areal Classification

Dear linguists,

Some time ago, I posted a query about sources on genetic and areal
classification (Linguist 14.1682). Here is a summary of the responses
I received.

Holger Gzella pointed out some work in Semitic Philology that
discusses the limits of genetic classification in the field:

L. Edzard's book ''Polygenesis, Convergence, and Entropy: An
Alternative Model of Linguistic Evolution Applied to Semitic
Linguistics'' (Wiesbaden 1998: Harrassowitz) and a review of this book
by R. Voigt in ''Orientalistische Literaturzeitung'' 97 [2002], 1-26.

He also cited Voigt's article in ''Israel Oriental Studies'' 20
(2002), ed. S. Izre'el, 265ff. as a good source on the
''Semitohamitic'' perspective.

Peter Daniels advised me not to start looking for sources in Ruhlen's
A Guide To The World's Languages, but to look at the Cambridge
''green'' series, the Routledge Language Family series, and the Oxford
and Pergamon encyclopedias.

R�my Viredaz sent an explanation for the confusion over the
classification of Dardic languages in Ruhlen's source. Richard
Strand's paper ''Notes on the Nuristani and Dardic languages'' JAOS
93, 1973, 297-305 was the source for Ruhlen, but errors made by the
editor in publication of the paper have led to mistakes in the
classification of Dardic languages being published in Ruhlen and other
sources. More information is available at Richard Strand's site:

Ghil`ad Zuckermann wrote about his forthcoming book on the genetics of
the Israeli language. More information is available at:

Wolfgang Behr recommened looking at Ethnologue
( and the following sources:

Klose, Albrecht, 1987, Sprachen der Welt: ein weltweiter Index der
Sprachfamilien, Einzelsprachen und Dialekte, mit Angabe der Synonyma
und fremdsprachigen �quivalente, M�nchen: Saur

Lyovin, Anatole V., 1997, An introduction to the languages of the
world, New York : Oxford University Press

George van Driem (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: An
Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region, containing
an Introduction to the Symbiotic Theory of Language (2 vols.). Leiden:

Many thanks to all who responded and took the time to answer my many
questions. I collected many more citations, which, while being far
from exhaustive, are far too many to fit in a summary. I would be
happy to send them to anyone who is interested. Just email me at with your request.

Marie Klopfenstein
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