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."
Date: Sun, 05 Jun 2005 19:31:05 +0200 From: Peter Öhl Subject: Historical Linguistics: An Introduction, 2nd edition
AUTHOR: Campbell, Lyle TITLE: Historical Linguistics, Second Edition SUBTITLE: An Introduction PUBLISHER: The MIT Press YEAR: 2004
Peter Öhl, Institute for Cognitive Linguistics, University of Frankfurt/ Main, Germany
The content of the second edition of Campbell's introduction to is by and large the same as in the first edition. It is a student's textbook presenting the major areas of historical linguistics, with emphasis on practise and broad empirical information. The book addresses students of historical linguistics with little theoretical and philological background. If it exceeds the basic introductory level, linguistic terminology -- both historical and non-historical -- is mostly explained. The topics covered in the book are (by chapter heading):
(1. Introduction) 2. Sound Change (kinds of sound change, including a list and examples of the most common changes; relative chronology) 3. Borrowing (lexical borrowing: definition, motivation; a short description of phonological and semantic borrowings and of the cultural inferences) 4. Analogical change (proportional analogy; levelling, extension; models) 5. The Comparative Method (assumptions of the model -- regularity of sound change; a case study: cognates in Finno-Ugric) 6. Linguistic classification (the world's language families; terminology; explanation of the subgrouping; glottochronology/ lexicostatistics) 7. Models of language change (discussion of the family tree model and wave theory; dialectology; sociolinguistics and language change; lexical diffusion) 8. Internal reconstruction (illustrations of the method; limitations; the comparative method) 9. Semantic and lexical change (traditional considerations; explaining semantic change; production of new words (numerous examples) ) 10. Syntactic change (mechanisms; generative approaches; grammaticalisation; reconstruction) 11. Explaining linguistic change (early theories; internal and external causes, explanation and prediction) 12. Areal linguistics (the concept of areal linguistics; examples of linguistic areas; how to determine an area; subgrouping; distant genetic relationship?) 13. Distant genetic relationships (types of evidence used; chance similarities; problems in the methods used) 14. The role of written records (philology; the role of writing; getting historical linguistic information for (sic!) written sources (same typo in 1st ed.) ) 15. Linguistic prehistory (Indo-European; methods; limitations and cautions).
Each topic is illustrated with rich empirical evidence from various language families, most commonly Indo-European, Uralic, Mayan and Uto-Aztecan. All chapters except 7, 11, 12, 13 & 15 are followed by a large number of refined exercises that often cover the topics in detail and comprise data from numerous language groups. In comparison to the first edition, the empirical basis and the exercises were enriched, some tables and maps were replaced and added in favour of illustration. The organisation of the chapters has for the most part been retained, except that the chapters on syntax and on semantics (now 9&10) have been switched.
To make it short: This is still a very good text book for the purposes it has been written for. However, those who have found shortcomings in the theoretical aspects of historical linguistics in the first edition, will still find them here. And those who would have liked to find more discussion of methods and data from research on linguistic subfields other than phonology and lexicology, will still miss them. Campbell has not made many changes in the second edition, which may have been his intention: In the main, the presentation of the material has been made more transparent, and the empirical and the practical parts have been refined and amended.
Campbell's introduction stands in the long tradition of (morpho-) phonological comparison of languages and language groups, respectively their historical stages. Not much has to be added to the chapter on phonological change. The chapters on borrowing and on analogy also both rely very much on the role of sound change, they present only little data from morphology and syntax. Lexical borrowing is presented in its most relevant aspects, though not as concisely and systematically as the chapter on sound change. This might be attributed to Campbell's intent to not refer to linguistic theories in the chapters building on the presentation of empirical data. A little more attention could have been paid to different types of loanwords and their correlation with cultural inferences, especially as the calques are concerned, which he presents on page 81. Instead, he tries to give an intuitive explanation of how and why languages borrow from each other -- which may in fact meet the interests of the target group better than the discussion of theoretical aspects would.
The textbook definitely has its strength in the presentation of data making the classification of languages plausible to students -- even if Campbell's approach is rather conservative. His main effort is to be concise about the world's language families and their rationale, not avoiding to present the challenge of the family tree model by wave theory in the chapter about models of linguistic change. Significantly, the models he is presenting go back to very early ideas of explaining linguistic change. The chapter on analogy -- which is in fact a theoretical one -- definitely lacks theoretical elaboration. The ideas of analogical change are presented, but much more attention should have been paid to the syntagmatic and paradigmatic effects on grammatical systems. What is missing in all chapters is the reference to more recent models of change, e.g. nativist models as used in generative explanations of linguistic change (see below), or recent developments in functional grammar that are reflected in the research on grammaticalisation. Both, he treats quite superficially in his chapter on syntactic change that is, with 28 pages, remarkably short, anyway.
This is in fact the general criticism I have for the whole book: Campbell treats syntax only marginally before his chapter 10, and much more could be said about morphological changes. Phonology is a major, but not the main factor constituting linguistic change and putting languages into relationship. It is a common fallacy in linguistic didactics that syntax may be deferred to advanced courses. In fact, syntactic typology and syntactic change are essential elements of understanding historical and comparative linguistics. This is why in my view important aspects are missing also in the presentation of linguistic reconstruction and linguistic classification (including the chapters on genetic relationship and areal linguistics) -- if this textbook is meant to be concise.
On page 283, Campbell states that there is no generally recognised approach to the treatment of syntactic change as there is for sound change. This statement is a little too suggestive, taking into consideration that this is a textbook for students who take their basic knowledge and their first impressions about historical linguistics from it. Since Campbell does not refer to recent theoretic approaches to phonological changes, he makes the reader think that only in syntax, there is some heterogeneous research done in more or less isolated research communities, whereas everybody in the world agrees that the approach to sound change he describes is the only and the right one. That Campbell's main interests are phonology and lexicology is evident. This could be stated without devaluating the generative approach to syntactic change, which he surprisingly treats in this chapter (Why didn't he, then, inform the reader about generative approaches to phonology, e.g. Kiparsky 1978, 1995b?).
Quite a lot has happened in diachronic syntax within the last two decades. Numerous works on syntactic change could have been mentioned, like Lightfoot (1991, 1997), Gelderen (1996), Kiparsky (1995a, 1996, 1997), Kroch (1989, 2000), Kroch & Taylor (1997), Pintzuk (1991), Pintzuk & al. (2000), Roberts (1992). Instead, Campbell discusses approaches to rule-based changes through language acquisition, like Klima (1964). What Campbell apparently takes as representative for generative models, is nowadays still respected, but history. (Note that in the first edition, Campbell gave here an example from sound change to demonstrate rule-based changes.) Lightfoot's (1979) model, which Campbell criticises on page 291, has been amended by Lightfoot himself several times. The latest generative approach to syntactic change Campbell lists is Lightfoot (1991), but its central idea, how to explain grammatical change through a change in parameter setting, isn't even mentioned.
It is quite surprising to find generative explanations reduced to the 1970's models of rule acquisition in a textbook published in 2004. Even Campbell's claim that in the generative view, 'linguistic change in general (...) takes place (...) in the transition of grammars from one generation to the next', is not justifiable, since most of the modern approaches (especially Lightfoot 1991) do in fact not neglect performative changes. It is just that the specific topic is the role of language acquisition in grammatical change, which is indeed a central one. The chapter on syntax could certainly have been done without referring to the generative approach in this way.
It is a pity that this influential textbook on historical linguistics obviously treats syntax as a minor subject. Even if one does not adopt the generative approach, less theoretical literature on syntactic change could have been referred to, like Denison (1993) or Faarlund (1990). However, as Campbell himself states on page 283, it is quite traditional that syntax is underrepresented in historical linguistic textbooks. The plenitude of information about specific areas (mainly historical and comparative phonology and lexicology; how to derive kinds of relationships between languages) makes this textbook nevertheless an essential reading for students of comparative and historical linguistics who want to acquire a broad empirical database and knowledge about the languages of the world. I would recommend it as a reader for corresponding courses, though for classes on topics covered by the chapters criticized here, it will be necessary to use some additional literature.
Denison, David (1993). English Historical Syntax: Verbal Constructions. Longman.
Gelderen, Elly van (1996). The Rise of Functional Categories. John Benjamins.
Faarlund, Jan T. (1990). Syntactic Change: Toward a Theory of Historical Syntax. Mouton de Gruyter.
Kemenade, Ans van & Nigel Vincent (eds.). Parameters of Morphosyntactic Change. Cambridge University Press.
Kiparsky, Paul (1978). "Rule Reordering." In Philip Baldi & Ronald N. Werth (eds.). Readings in Historical Phonology: Chapters in the Theory of Sound Change. Pennsylvania State University Press. 218- 35.
Kiparsky, Paul (1995a). "Indo-European origins of Proto Germanic syntax." In: Adrian Battye, & Ian Roberts (eds.). Clause Structure and Language Change, pp. 140-169. Oxford University Press.
Kiparsky, Paul (1995b). "The Phonological Basis of Sound Change." In: John Goldsmith (ed.). The Handbook of Phonological Theory, pp. 640-670. Blackwell Publishing.
Kiparsky, Paul (1996). "The shift to head-initial VP in Germanic". In: Höskuldur Thráinsson (ed.) Studies in comparative Germanic syntax. Papers from the 9th Comparative Germanic Syntax Workshop, Harvard University, Jan. 1994. Trends in Linguistics/ Studies and Monographs 83. Kluwer.
Kiparsky, Paul (1997). "The rise of positional licensing." In: Kemenade & Vincent (eds.). 460-94.
Klima, Edward (1964). "Relatedness between grammatical systems." Language 40, 1-20.
Kroch, Anthony & Ann Taylor (1997). "Verb movement in Old and Middle English: Dialect variation and language contact." In: Kemenade & Vincent (eds.). 297-325.
Kroch, Anthony (1989). "Reflexes of grammar in patterns of language change." Journal of Language Variation and Change 1.3.: 199-244.
Kroch, Anthony (2000) "Syntactic change." In: Mark Baltin & Christopher Collins (eds.). The Handbook of Contemporary Syntactic Theory, pp. 629-739. Blackwell Publishing.
Lightfoot, David (1979). Principles of Diachronic Syntax. Cambridge University Press.
Lightfoot, David (1991). How to Set Parameters. Arguments from Language Change. MIT Press.
Lightfoot, David (1997). "Shifting triggers and diachronic reanalyses." In: Kemenade & Vincent (eds). 253-272.
Pintzuk, Susan (1991) Phrase structures in competition: Variation and change in Old English word order. PhD. Dissertation, Univ. of Pennsylvania.
Pintzuk, Susan & al. (2000). Diachronic Syntax: Models and Mechanisms. Oxford University Press.
Roberts, Ian (1992) Verbs and Diachronic Syntax: A Comparative History of English and French. Kluwer.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
I studied German and English Philology and some Indo-European Linguistics at the University of Freiburg, Germany. I was also trained in historical linguistics and comparative syntax at the Universities of Massachusetts at Amherst (USA) and Stuttgart (Germany). I have taught courses on historical linguistics at the universities of Stuttgart and Frankfurt (Germany). Currently, I am researcher in a project (generative approach) on the role of functional projections in processes of grammaticalisation and syntactic change, specialising on the diachrony of verbal inflection and of hypotaxis.