LINGUIST List 15.887

Mon Mar 15 2004

Sum: Genetic and Areal Classification

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  • Marie Klopfenstein, Genetic and Areal Classification

    Message 1: Genetic and Areal Classification

    Date: Fri, 12 Mar 2004 15:45:22 -0500 (EST)
    From: Marie Klopfenstein <>
    Subject: Genetic and Areal Classification

    Dear linguists,

    Some time ago, I posted a query about sources on genetic and areal classification (Linguist 14.1682). Here is a summary of the responses I received.

    Holger Gzella pointed out some work in Semitic Philology that discusses the limits of genetic classification in the field:

    L. Edzard's book ''Polygenesis, Convergence, and Entropy: An Alternative Model of Linguistic Evolution Applied to Semitic Linguistics'' (Wiesbaden 1998: Harrassowitz) and a review of this book by R. Voigt in ''Orientalistische Literaturzeitung'' 97 [2002], 1-26.

    He also cited Voigt's article in ''Israel Oriental Studies'' 20 (2002), ed. S. Izre'el, 265ff. as a good source on the ''Semitohamitic'' perspective.

    Peter Daniels advised me not to start looking for sources in Ruhlen's A Guide To The World's Languages, but to look at the Cambridge ''green'' series, the Routledge Language Family series, and the Oxford and Pergamon encyclopedias.

    R�my Viredaz sent an explanation for the confusion over the classification of Dardic languages in Ruhlen's source. Richard Strand's paper ''Notes on the Nuristani and Dardic languages'' JAOS 93, 1973, 297-305 was the source for Ruhlen, but errors made by the editor in publication of the paper have led to mistakes in the classification of Dardic languages being published in Ruhlen and other sources. More information is available at Richard Strand's site:

    Ghil`ad Zuckermann wrote about his forthcoming book on the genetics of the Israeli language. More information is available at:

    Wolfgang Behr recommened looking at Ethnologue ( and the following sources:

    Klose, Albrecht, 1987, Sprachen der Welt: ein weltweiter Index der Sprachfamilien, Einzelsprachen und Dialekte, mit Angabe der Synonyma und fremdsprachigen �quivalente, M�nchen: Saur

    Lyovin, Anatole V., 1997, An introduction to the languages of the world, New York : Oxford University Press

    George van Driem (2001). Languages of the Himalayas: An Ethnolinguistic Handbook of the Greater Himalayan Region, containing an Introduction to the Symbiotic Theory of Language (2 vols.). Leiden: Brill.

    Many thanks to all who responded and took the time to answer my many questions. I collected many more citations, which, while being far from exhaustive, are far too many to fit in a summary. I would be happy to send them to anyone who is interested. Just email me at with your request.

    Marie Klopfenstein