20
Jun
Language reconstruction and historical-cultural reconstruction: results and limitations
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08:30 to 09:45
From 20-06-16 to 24-06-16

This series of lectures is meant to give an opportunity for reflecting on some theoretical assumptions developed in historical linguistics as regards mainly the relationship between archaeology and linguistics when the reconstruction of ancestral cultures is at issue.

The geographical area taken into consideration will be the Circum-Mediterranean Basin, where two major language families have been living together for millenia, i.e. the Indo-European (southern European and Anatolian branches, also Iranian) and the Afro-Asiatic (Semitic, Egyptian, Berber) language families.

The story of this kind of scientific research begins with the reconstruction of the material and spiritual culture of the Proto-Indo-Europeans attempted by the Swiss linguist Adolphe Pictet (1859-1863), while August Schleicher was suggesting the first reconstruction of the Proto-Indo-European language (1861-1862). Concepts such as family-tree theory vs. wave theory, exceptionless regularity of sound change (Neogrammarians) vs. lexical diffusion (Hugo Schuchardt, 1885), the question of identifying the Proto-Indo-European homeland, as well as hypotheses about Indo-European migrations, were already developed between the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. However, those issues have been debated up to the present day. Moreover, the relationship between linguistics and genetics has been added as a matter of discussion. Scientific debates and controversies appeared in the last decades in works written by both linguists and archaeologists. Their contributions will be taken into account in order to ascertain strong and weak points of their proposals. The recent application of the Bayesian inference to Afro-Asiatic (Kitchen et al. 2009) and Indo-European languages (Boukhaert et al. 2012) ‒ the latter paper being strongly criticized by Pereltsvaig & Lewis (2015) ‒ will be not disregarded.

Select References: (Historical Linguistics, Language Reconstruction) Anttila (1989), Hock (1991), Trask (1994 →2005), Fox (1995), Hock & Joseph (1996), Cavalli-Sforza et al. (1996), Blench & Spriggs (1997), Campbell (1999), Sihler (2000), Andersen (2003), Joseph & Janda (2003), Aikhenvald & Dixon (2006), Campbell & Mixco (2007), Campbell & Poser (2008), Trask (2010, revised by Robert McColl Millar), Luraghi & Bubenik (2010), Ringe & Eska (2013), Trask (2015, revised by Robert McColl Millar); (Indo-European) Benveniste (1969 → 1981), Marija Gimbutas in Cardona, Honigswald & Senn (1970: 155-197), Gimbutas (1977), Gimbutas (1979), Gamkrelidze & Ivanov (1984 → English translation, 1995), Martinet (1986), Renfrew (1987), Mallory (1991), Villar (1991→ 1996), Enrico Campanile in Giacalone Ramat & Ramat (1993 → English translation, 1998: 1-24), Watkins (1995), Mallory & Adams (1997), Grigoriev (2002 → Russian version, Grigor’ev 2015), Meier-Brügger (2003 → German version, 2010), Levine, Renfrew & Boyle (2003), Penney (2004), Fortston IV (2004), Mallory & Adams (2006), Clackson (2007), Anthony (2007), West (2007), Laks (2008), Wodko, Irslinger & Schneider (2008), Boukhaert et al. (2012), Pereltsvaig & Lewis (2015); (Afro-Asiatic, Semitic, Arabic, Aramaic) D’jakonov (1965 → 2006), Diakonoff (1988), Orel & Stolbova (1995), Ehret (1995), Lipiński (1997), Hetzron (1997 → 2005), Bennett (1998), Grande (1998), Christopher Ehret in Heine & Nurse (2000: 272-297), Militarev & Kogan (2000, 2005), Satzinger (2002), John Huehnergard in Woodard (2004: 138-159), Blench (2005), Zaborski (2006), Blench (2006), Belova et al. (2009), Militarev (2009), Behnstedt & Woidich (2011, 2012, 2014), Voigt (2009), Kitchen et al. (2009), Leonid Kogan in Weninger (2011: 179-258), Frajzyngier & Shay (2012), Blench (2012), Hudson (2013), Bomhard (2014), Gzella (2015).