Cambridge Studies in Linguistics: Historical Linguistics and Language Change Series Number 81

Cambridge Studies in Linguistics: Historical Linguistics and Language Change Series Number 81

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Language change happens in the spatio-temporal world. Historical linguistics is the craft linguists exercise upon its results, in order to tell coherent stories about it. In a series of linked essays Roger Lass offers a critical survey of the foundations of the art of historical linguistics, and its interaction with its subject matter, language change. He takes as his background some of the major philosophical issues which arise from these considerations, such as ontology, realism and conventionalism, and explanation. Along the way he poses such questions as: where does our data come from; how trustworthy is it; what is the empirical basis for the reconstructive techniques we standardly take as yielding facts; and how much does the historian create data rather than receiving it? The paradoxical conclusion is that our historiographical methods are often better than the data they have to work with.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 448 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 30mm | 650g
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0521459249
  • 9780521459242
  • 1,505,119

Table of contents

Preface; General prologue; 1. The past, the present and the historian; 2. Written records: evidence and argument; 3. Relatedness, ancestry and comparison; 4. Convergence and contact; 5. The nature of reconstruction; 6. Time and change: the shape(s) of history; 7. Explanation and ontology; References; Index.
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Review quote

'This is a very interesting book, and the reader who is familiar with the basics of historical linguistics will find it inspiring and stimulating.' Moderna Sprak "This is a useful and engaging book, discussing and illustrating principles of historical linguistics primarily with Indo-European examples." Keith Slater, Notes on Linguistics "...this is a very learned, logically reasoned and very valuable book--the work of an outstanding historical linguist who has extraordinarily wide-ranging interests and a formidable memory. It is enjoyable reading....this is a work of impressive scholarship..." James Milroy, Diachronica "...the book contains much of interst to students of language change at all levels. His examples and demonstrations of method would be of great value to newcomers to the field and, indeed, any of us can admire such perfect elucidation." Canadian Journal of Linguistics
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Rating details

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