A vivid commentary on Jewish survival and Jewish speech communities that will be enjoyed by the general reader, and is essential reading for students and researchers interested in the study of Middle Eastern languages, Jewish studies, and sociolinguistics.
Elly van Gelderen provides examples of linguistic cycles from a number of
languages and language families, along with an account of the linguistic
cycle in terms of minimalist economy principles. A cycle involves
grammaticalization from lexical to functional category followed by renewal.
Some well-known cycles involve negatives, where full negative phrases are
reanalyzed as words and affixes and are then renewed by full phrases again.
Verbal agreement is another example: full pronouns are reanalyzed as
agreement markers and are renewed again. Each chapter provides data on a
separate cycle from a myriad of languages. Van Gelderen argues that the
cross-linguistic similarities can be seen as Economy Principles present in
the initial cognitive system or Universal Grammar. She further claims that
some of the cycles can be used to classify a language as analytic or
synthetic, and she provides insight into the shape of the earliest human
language and how it evolved.