Abstracts of major papers
December 2000: History of Language Vol. 6 No. 2
- Wu Tieping: Developing The Comparative Study Of The Histories Of Chinese Linguistics And European Linguistics
The present paper attempts to illustrate, by comparing segments of the histories of linguistics in China and abroad, that Qian Daxin (1728-1804), one of the representatives of the Qian–Jia School, arrived at two significant linguistic discoveries much earlier than the Western linguists Jacob Grimm (1785-1863), K. Brugmans (1849-1919) and H. Osthoff (1847-1909), who are respectively credited with the two results. One of Qian's contributions is his discovery that there were only "heavy labials" (term used by Chinese traditional linguistics, i.e. bilabials: p, ph, bh), but no "light labials" (i.e. labiodentals: f, v) in archaic Chinese, and that the latter was derived from the former. The second great contribution of Qian Daxin's was the application of Chinese dialect data in his reconstruction of the archaic pronunciation of Chinese, which was also a whole century earlier than the work the Europeans did in this field.
- Damien Erwan Perrotin: The Position of Etruscan in the Western Mediterranean Ancient Linguistic Landscape
This paper's goal is to expose what is known about the relatives of Etruscan (Rhaetic, Lemnian, Prehellenic A), and to explore the possible connections between these tongues and Indo-European, which has often been --- and is still being --- proposed as a likely parent of Etruscan
February 2000: History of Language Vol. 6 No. 1
- Elena Bashir: A Thematic Survey of Burushaski Research
The study of Burushaski has made enormous strides since the early accounts published in 1854 and 1871 by the British explorers Cunningham and Hayward, and Burushaski can no longer be considered an understudied language. The early stages of research on the language are summarized chronologically in Grierson (1919) and Zarubin (1927), while work until 1970 is summarized in Klimov and Edel'man (1970). Tiffou (1998) discusses more recent work including ethnographical studies. The present article identifies major themes in Burushaski research and suggests directions for future research, along with providing a comprehensive bibliography.
- Étienne Tiffou: Current Research in Burushaski: A Survey
This brief overview takes into consideration not only books and articles dealing with the language itself, but also, as already done in the Yearbook of South Asian Languages and Linguistics (Tiffou 1998), books and articles dealing with Burusho society and the very profound changes which it has experienced in the past twenty five years, inasmuch as it does not seem advisable to separate the study of the language from the study of the people who actually speak it. The article also tries to indicate the paths which research on Burushaski ought to follow in the foreseeable future.
July 1999: History of Language Vol. 5 No. 2
- Václav Blazek: Indo-European 'Hundred'
This paper presents the data for the reconstruction of the word for 'hundred'
in the various subfamilies of Indo-European, and then discusses likely
internal etymologies for *k^m0tóm/k^m0tóm proposed
in the literature, as well as the possibility of external parallels.
- Damien Erwan Perrotin: The Name of the Horse in
Eurasian Languages: A Case of Cross-Family Diffusion
The distribution of the various words for the horse in the languages of
the Eurasian continent suggests that its status could be far more complex
than it is generally thought. Indeed, their distribution does not seem to be
linked with any one of the major linguistic families, so that it is possible
to suspect large early diffusion phenomena, perhaps linked with the spreading
of pastoral economy along the Steppes Belt.
January 1999: History of Language Vol. 5 No. 1
- Robert Lagerberg: The Stress of Russian Adjectives
Containing the Suffix -iv(yj)
This paper discusses the development in Modern Russian of the stress of
the adjectival suffix -iv(yj), which is increasingly suffixal
rather than dependent on the preceding morpheme. This is part of a larger
drift in Russian from morphological to rhyme-bound stress, and serves as an
apt illustration of lexical diffusion. Data is drawn from dictionaries ranging
over the past three centuries.
September 1998: History of Language Vol. 4 No. 2
- H.M. Hubey: Quantitative Approaches to Historical
Linguistics with Example Application to *PIE/IE
This paper illustrates the application of various quantitative methods to
historical linguistic data: in particular, graph-theoretical notions
(graph-based clustering algorithms, cladistics, spanning trees). There is also
of the quantitative notions of phoneme and linguistic distance, and intuitive
correlations are made between linguistic distances and real-world distances.
May 1998: Dhumbadji! Vol. 4 No. 1
- Václav Blazek: Uralic Numbers
The author presents a detailed etymology of the numerals from one to ten within
each of the three branches of Uralic --- Fenno-Permic, Ugric, and Samoyed ---
as well as identifying instances where the words in the three branches may be
related. In the process, he adduces data from other languages which may have
come in contact with Uralic or be distantly related to it (such as Yukaghir
and Indo-European), within the framework of East Nostratic. The author finds
that the proto-Uralic numeral system can be reconstructed for 1-5; the remaining
numerals are either borrowed, or native arithmetic derivations from simpler
numbers (e.g. 8 as 10-2).
July 1997: Dhumbadji! Vol. 3 No. 2
- Stephan Atzert: Flemish and Algemeen Beschaafd
Nederlands in Belgium
The author considers the historical background giving rise to the present
linguistic situation of Flemish in Belgium.
- Alan R. Libert: Some Observations on the Syntax of
The author considers the syntactic behaviour of diekpleo: 'to
sail out through' throughout Greek. The verb is of interest as it contains
two prepositional prefixes, and the question to be determined is, whether
the two complements corresponding to the respective pronouns are marked ---
whether they are still prepositional, or the prepositional prefix replaces
the preposition in the noun phrase, and whether there is any discernable
diachronic tendency. The latter is answered in the negative, and the
complements are found to remain largely prepositional.
- Anand Raman: A Database for Historical Chinese
The author describes the history of the Middle Chinese rhyming dictionary
Qie yun, its reliability, its use in Chinese historical phonology
and dialectology, and its computerisation in the DOC 'Dictionary on Computer'.
January 1997: Dhumbadji! Vol. 3 No. 1
- John D. Bengtson: Vasco-Caucasic HwanV 'mountain ~
The author investigates cognates underlying the Vasco-Caucasic form
HwanV in Basque, Caucasic, and Burushic.
- Václav Blazek: Basic Word Lists of Ancient
Languages of the Near East
The author presents a Swadesh-100 basic word list of Ancient Near Eastern
Languages: Sumerian (including Emesal), Akkadian, Elamite, Kassite, Hurrian,
Urartian, and Hattic.
- Tobias Scheer: Des Ablauts gemeiner Gegner:
This paper shows that the distribution of the three markers Indo-European
used to express aspect (i.e. Ablaut, Quantity, and Reduplication) is not
arbitrary. Rather, a given verb selects one of these markers and only one
according to its root-vowel. This result is arrived at on the basis of the
evidence coming from Germanic. A seeming incompatibility arises between
the rule derived and long [e]; however, the laryngeal theory shows that this
difficulty can be resolved: "Laryngeals kill Ablaut". The correctness of
this result is confirmed by comparison with Semitic. Rather than attribute
this commonality between Indo-European and Semitic to a common Nostratic
inheritence, the author sees this as a typological result --- and as
confirmation of the post-velar articulation of Indo-European laryngeals.
June 1996: Dhumbadji! Vol. 2 No. 4
- Xiaokang Zhou: Borrowed Words in Chinese
The characteristic properties of Chinese create a number of problems for
assimilating borrowed words into the language (and representing them in its
writing system), and since the 1950s, with a great influx of foreign lexicon,
interest in this area has heightened. This paper examines what has actually
happened to foreign words in the process of borrowing, and some of the
changes to Chinese that can be associated with the influx of borrowed words.
December 1995: Dhumbadji! Vol. 2 No. 3
- Václav Blazek: Indo-European Personal Pronouns (1st & 2nd
A rich suppletivism and a complicated inflection are characteristic for
Indo-European personal pronouns. The pronominal declension is different from
the nominal, although the latter has influenced the former. The purposes of
this contribution are as follows:
- An internal reconstruction of the pronominal microsystems in all groups
of Indo-European languages, where the complete paradigms are known, and their
projection onto the (late) proto-language level.
- A comparison of the reconstructed subsystems, and Proto-Indo-European
- A verification by means of an external comparison in typological and
May 1995: Dhumbadji! Vol. 2 No. 2
Summer 1994/1995: Dhumbadji! Vol. 2 No. 1
- Larry Trask: Basque: The Search for Relatives.
In this paper (since published in Trask's The History of Basque),
Trask launches a devastating, influential, exhaustive and often hilarious
critique of the various attempts through the years to connect the linguistic
isolate Basque to sundry other language families.
- Jacques Guy: On Lexicostatistics and
The author makes a comprehensive and thorough critique of both glottochronology
and lexicostatistics, and of their underlying assumptions: that there is
a universal constant rate of lexical evolution, that the lexical items in
a basic lexicostatistical list are of equal stability, and that there can
exist a universal basic lexicon. He provides detailed criticisms and evaluations
of work by Lees, Bergsland & Vogt, Dyen, James & Cole, Dyen, and Blust.
Winter 1994: Dhumbadji! Vol. 1 No. 4
- Patrick Ryan: Proto-Language "he" and "it" IE -l / -n
A phenomenon that has successfully resisted explanation since the inception of
Indo-European studies is the odd variation of final -l in the
nominative-accusative case stem-form opposed by -n in the oblique
cases stem-form of a few important nouns. Probably the most notable of these
is Indo-European sa/âwel, 'sun', which has the oblique
case stem-form swen-. The author demonstrates that the
Proto-Language of humanity had an animate definite article,
nhá, which underlies Proto-Indo-European final
-l in sa/âwel, and that the Proto-Language
also had an inanimate definite article, ná, which
underlies Proto-Indo-European final -n in swen-. In
the derived languages, these articles became pronouns of the third person
singular in a neutral social context for active verb constructions.
Summer 1993/1994: Dhumbadji! Vol. 1 No. 3
- Robert S. Bauer: Global Etymology of *KOLO "Wheel".
A word which appears to have diffused globally amongst a wide range of
human languages is the word for 'wheel': etymologically related forms for
'wheel' span a broad geographical area from Western Europe through the
Middle East, Africa, and over to China and Japan. This paper primarily
focuses attention on the linguistic comparison of words for 'wheel' from
Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan languages. The paper is based on the premise
that there is a connection between the cultural transmission of the wheel
and horse-drawn chariot from the West into China and the phonetic similarity
of words for wheel and wheeled-vehicle in Indo-European and Sino-Tibetan
May 1993: Dhumbadji! Vol. 1 No. 2
- John Bengtson: The Macro-Caucasic Hypothesis.
This paper outlines evidence for the existence of a Macro-Caucasic
language phylum, encompassing Basque, Caucasic and Burushaski, and held
to be at a time depth comparable to that of Indo-European.
- Paul Sidwell: The Nostratic Theory, an
The author gives a brief outline of the classical Nostratic theory, as
promulgated by Illich-Svitych and his colleagues in Moscow.
- John Bowden: An Introduction to
Oceanic Linguistic Prehistory.
This paper begins by sketching out the external relationships of the
Oceanic family, and examines the evidence for the existence of the group
itself. It then considers the dispersal of Proto-Oceanic (POC) and the existence or
otherwise of large subgroups within the Oceanic family. After discussion of
some of the literature concerning the internal relationships of
the smaller subgroups not already discussed, some conjectures are made
about what the future may hold for the field. A selected bibliography is
November 1992: Dhumbadji! Vol. 1 No. 1
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Last revision: 2001-1-21