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LINGUIST List 20.3126

Thu Sep 17 2009

Qs: Detecting Hunter-Gatherer Substrate Languages

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        1.    Roger Blench, Detecting Hunter-Gatherer Substrate Languages

Message 1: Detecting Hunter-Gatherer Substrate Languages
Date: 16-Sep-2009
From: Roger Blench <r.blenchodi.org.uk>
Subject: Detecting Hunter-Gatherer Substrate Languages
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All the languages in the world are either the languages of former
hunter-gatherers assimilated to those of farmers or result from the
demographic expansion of farmers. Assuming that complete replacement does
not always occur, it should be possible to detect a forager substrate in a
variety of modern languages through analysis of specialised lexical fields,
once good quality data exists on neighbouring languages. It has been argued
that forager languages have specific structural features; I don’t believe
this myself, but it is an idea worth testing. It can also be the case that
languages of synchronic foragers point to an agricultural past. I have
posted analyses of several languages on my website with this in view;
Enggano, Vazimba, Kusunda, Shom Pen and Bangi Me. These languages are often
highly endangered, since they tend to be spoken by outgroups who are trying
to shift identities.

My question is whether there are other people out there who have also been
working on this topic and whether there is enough material to put together
a book. If so, I’d like to hear from you and also accumulate references on
this topic.

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics

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