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."
The chapters in this edited volume explore the sociolinguistic implications of orthographic and scriptural practices in a diverse range of communicative contexts, ranging from schoolrooms to internet discussion boards. The focus is on the way that scriptural practices both index and constitute social hierarchies, identities and relationships and in some cases, become the focus for public language ideological debates. Capitalizing on the now robust body of literature on orthographic choice and debate in sociolinguistics and anthropological linguistics, the volume addresses a number of cross-cutting themes that connect orthographic practices to areas of contemporary interest in sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology. These themes include: the different social implications of self vs. other representation and the permeability of the personal/social and the public/private; how scriptural practices ("inscription") serve as sites for social discipline; the historical and intertextual frameworks for the meaning potentials of orthographic choice (relating to issues of genre and style); and writing as a broader semiotic field: the visual and esthetic dimensions of texts and metalinguistic "play" in spelling and its ambiguous implications for writer stance.