Featured Linguist!

Jost Gippert: Our Featured Linguist!

"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



Donate Now | Visit the Fund Drive Homepage

Amount Raised:

$34890

Still Needed:

$40110

Can anyone overtake Syntax in the Subfield Challenge ?

Grad School Challenge Leader: University of Washington


Publishing Partner: Cambridge University Press CUP Extra Publisher Login

Discussion Details




Title: Disc: Re: Media: BBC: Welsh-Hindi Link
Submitter: Mark Jones
Description: The following points have, I think, been there between the lines in
previous contributions to this discussion, but it is perhaps worthwhile to
articulate them rather more explicitly.

Dr Rajendran is right to urge caution in considering a superficial
similarity between any languages to be evidence for some deeper and more
substantial link. The need for caution is arguably all the greater when the
languages are distantly related, as is the case with Hindi and Welsh, or
when there is some scant evidence for contact between speakers of the
languages involved at some particular point in time.

I suspect that we still know far too little about the diachronic dynamics
of stress and intonation systems to be able to say much about general
patterns of possible historical development. As Briony Williams has pointed
out, however, we are in a rather more fortunate position with Welsh, in
that we have evidence to suggest that the Welsh system is of comparatively
recent origin, i.e. not somehow retained from Proto-Indo-European or some
putative Celto-Indo-Iranian subgroup.

This lack of general data on diachronic developments in stress and
intonation systems means that we also cannot rule out the possibility that
these superficially similar patterns in Hindi and Welsh (and I'm unsure as
to how comparable they really are in terms of a detailed analysis) are
simply parallel developments.

The effects of contact-induced developments are similarly in need of
further extensive research in general, though in this case the chronology
of the Welsh development and patterns of contact do not indicate any such
origin.

In the light of the above, and lacking any evidence for contact-induced
changes from one direction or the other, it seems most likely that the
superficial similarity noted for Hindi and Welsh is just that, as other
contributors have indicated.

One final point with reference to Bernard Comrie's remarks (and with all
above caveats in place!) is that I believe there was some Welsh migration
to the north-east of England in the 1900's, possibly earlier, and there is
such a thing as the Teeside Eisteddfod (see link below where it is named):

http://www.northumbrianassociation.co.uk/news/2002/2002-10-12-northern-arts-guide-snubs-teesside.html

But I'll leave list members to speculate further...

Mark

Mark J. Jones
Department of Linguistics
University of Cambridge
http://kiri.ling.cam.ac.uk/mark
mjj13@cam.ac.uk
Date Posted: 19-Mar-2005
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Phonology
Genetic Classification
LL Issue: 16.836
Posted: 19-Mar-2005

Search Again

Back to Discussions Index