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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: The 'Broken' Plural Problem in Arabic, Semitic, and Afroasiatic: A solution based on the diachronic application of prosodic analysis Add Dissertation
Author: Robert Ratcliffe Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Yale University, Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations
Completed in: 1992
Linguistic Subfield(s): Historical Linguistics; Morphology;
Language Family(ies): Afroasiatic

Abstract: This dissertation sets up a new theoretical model for the resolution of diachronic problems in Comparative Semitic and Comparative Afroasiatic Linguistics and shows how this model can be used to resolve specific problems associated with nomial morphology and noun plural formation in a number of Afroasiatic languages.

In the first third of the work a morphological modle is elaborated for Arabic based on the principles of Prosodic Analysis and Level-ordering. It is shown in the context of this model that there is a high degree of productivity and regularity in the superficially complex and anomalous system of noun plural formation in Arabic.

The second third of the work is dedicated to resolving two diachronic problems: 1) the origin of the allomorphy in the noun plural systems of SW Semitic languages and 2) the historical basis for the discrepancy between SW Semitic and other Semitic languages in the area of noun plural morphology. It is shown that previous efforts have failed to find a solution to these problems consistent with the data. Using the model developed in the first third of the work and new solution is proposed.

The final third of the work is dedicated to comparison of the systems of noun-pluralization in Semitic and non-Semitic Afroasiatic languages. It is shown that in spite of tremendous superficial diversity in the means of forming noun plurals in Afroasiatic languages, a consitent pattern or system is preserved across the group. A system of nominal number marking using 'internal' and 'external' morphology is reconstructed for Proto-Afroasiatic.

In addition to offering a new solution to an old problem in Semitic Historical Linguistics, the dissertation also representst the first comprehensive comparative and reconstructive analysis of the internal nominal morphology of Afroasiatic languages.