CHAPTER NINE THE DIFFUSION of LANGUAGEI. THE LANGUAGE TREE1. DIVERGENCE: Mid-19th century theory of comparing the world’s language families to the branches of a tree. It is the basic process of language formation over time and space and how differences occur. (August Schleicher)2. CONVERGENCE: Diffusion of languages through human mobility. This can complicate the task for researchers because the rules of reconstruction may not apply or may be unreliable.3. REPLACEMENT: Languages of invaders/conquerors have replaced and/or modified languages of traditional, smaller, and technolog- ically less advanced people. Has occurred throughout human history.
THEORIES of LANGUAGE DIFFUSIONCONQUEST THEORY: Present-day Russia, an early cradle, spread westward, over- powering earlier inhabitants and imposing their vocabulary.
AGRICULTURAL THEORY: It was the spread of agriculture, not conquest, that diffused language through Europe. The source of ancient language had to lie in an agricultural hearth, and not in Russia and Ukraine. The source area is believed to be the area of Anatolia in modern Turkey. This theory has both supporters and opponents. Explain both perspectives.
The agricultural theory, proposed in 1984, has as its main point, one culture hearth as theorigin of diffusion for the Indo-European language.
THE SEARCH for a SUPERFAMILYThe evolution and diffusion of Proto-Indo-European occurred over a period of, at most,9,000 years. But language development and divergence have been occurring for more thanten times as long. Describe Colin Renfrew’s theory. How is it different from theagricultural theory? Identify the culture the culture hearths.
DIFFUSION to the PACIFICTo study language diffusion in the Pacific, geographers studied the migration (diffusion) of peoplethrough the region. The diffusion of peoples and their languages into the Pacific north of Indonesiabegan in China (Fig. 9-6). Identify the emergent language family and the three distinct dialectsthat evolved. Despite geographic barriers, the process of diffusion took place remarkably quickly.
DIFFUSION in the AMERICAS The current language map of the Americas is dominated by Indo-European languages. These have engulfed the languages of Native Americans. Because of their small populations and the fact that there were not any preexisting people, it was assumed that the Indian linguistic situation would be fairly simple. How many Native languages have been discovered versus Old World languages? So what conclusion can be drawn? Describe the Greenberg hypothesis & identify the 3 language families. Do all linguists agree with Greenberg? Explain.
INFLUENCES on INDIVIDUAL LANGUAGES Each of the languages in the world’s language families has its own story of origin and dispersal. We can’t hope to tell the story of even a fraction of these languages, but we can identify some of the critical influences of individual tongues. Explain the premise that speakers of non-written languages will not retain the same language very long if they lose contact with one another. How might this relate to the early proliferation of languages in human history? What was the significance of the Middle Ages to language diffusion?