This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."
This book uses Sperber and Wilson's relevance theory to show that connectivity in discourse is a pragmatic rather than a semantic matter: it results from relevance relations between text and context rather than from relations linguistically encoded in the text. In two introductory chapters, Regina Blass argues that relevance theory offers a more explanatory account of discourse connectivity than do alternative approaches based on notions of cohesion, coherence and topic. In subsequent chapters, she introduces data from the language Sissala and shows how relevance theory can play an important role in guiding and constraining semantic and pragmatic analyses of these data. This approach reveals unexpected results - for example the detection of an interpretive use marker in Sissala, with implications for the analysis of so-called 'hearsay phenomena' in other languages - and leads to a new basis for particle typology.
"The greatest strength of this book is the originality of the research." Notes on Linguistics "B's study contains a host of interesting observations and ideas, and reading it is very thought-provoking and rewarding." Language