Sprachbund Theory

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Shemtov
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Sprachbund Theory

Post by Shemtov » Sun 28 Jan 2018, 01:58

I took out Greenberg's Monograph on his proposed Eurasiatic family, and while I disagree with it, there are some coincidences that need explaining. This has made me think a lot about Sprachbunds. I have come to two "revelations":
1. A language or language family can be part of more then one Sprachbund at a time.
2. There can be layers of Sprachbunds- just like for families.

Let's look at the Altaic Sprachbund to explore these Ideas. The Micro-Altaic Spachbund together with the Uralic languages are a "Macrosprachbund" The Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund. Pre-PU may have been in a Sprachbund with Pre-PIE, whose influence may have carried over to The Micro-Altaic Spachbund when PU joined the Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund. Tungusic "Overlaps" with the Micro-Altaic Sprachbund (and thus the Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund) with The Tunguso-Koreo-Japonic Sprachbund, which consists, of course of Tungusic, Koreanic, and Japanese. With Ainu, this may for a Macrosprachbund.
Thoughts?
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Shemtov » Sun 28 Jan 2018, 04:35

Also, this Theory could lend credence to the idea that Afro-Asiatic is a Sprachbund instead of a phylum, as proposed by Semiticists Na'ama Pat-El and Aren Wilson-Wright at the North-American Conference of Afro-Asiatic Linguistics 44 ( Source), which I have thought about as a likely possibility since I saw Loprieno mention it in passing; His source seems to be a little-known 1970 monograph "Zur Frage der Beziehungen zwischen den semitischen und hamitischen Sprachen" by G. W. Tsereteli, which proposes an "allogenetic"theory.
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Xonen » Mon 29 Jan 2018, 16:58

Shemtov wrote:
Sun 28 Jan 2018, 01:58
I took out Greenberg's Monograph on his proposed Eurasiatic family, and while I disagree with it, there are some coincidences that need explaining.
Such as...? I mean, I don't doubt that there are some curious similarities between language families, but coincidences don't really need much explaining unless it's fairly obvious that they're not actually coincidences. And the further back in time you go, the harder it gets to obtain scientific evidence for that.

This has made me think a lot about Sprachbunds. I have come to two "revelations":
1. A language or language family can be part of more then one Sprachbund at a time.
2. There can be layers of Sprachbunds- just like for families.
The latter, at least, is certainly true; e.g. Standard Average European contains all smaller Sprachbunds that exist in Europe. For the former, I can't immediately think of any examples, but it sounds reasonable enough. A language can certainly be influenced by more than one language at a time, so if those languages belong to different Sprachbunds, then... sure, I guess? Ultimately, it probably depends on how we define belonging to a Sprachbund.

Also, if we look at this from a primarily historical perspective, then it seems even clearer to me that a language should be able to show evidence of having belonged to multiple Sprachbunds over the course of its history, whether or not those took place simultaneously.

Let's look at the Altaic Sprachbund to explore these Ideas. The Micro-Altaic Spachbund together with the Uralic languages are a "Macrosprachbund" The Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund. Pre-PU may have been in a Sprachbund with Pre-PIE, whose influence may have carried over to The Micro-Altaic Spachbund when PU joined the Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund. Tungusic "Overlaps" with the Micro-Altaic Sprachbund (and thus the Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund) with The Tunguso-Koreo-Japonic Sprachbund, which consists, of course of Tungusic, Koreanic, and Japanese. With Ainu, this may for a Macrosprachbund.
Thoughts?
Well, again, we'd need to discuss some actual features here, so... something something agglutinative morphology? That by itself isn't enough to prove much, IMO, but I don't really know enough about these language families to say. One thing that's sometimes mentioned as a similarity between Turkic and Uralic is vowel harmony, but I find that somewhat questionable, actually, since Proto-Uralic is probably better analyzed as not having any vowel distinctions apart from a two-way height contrast in non-initial syllables. That is, the complex vowel harmony systems of Ugric and Finnic are largely later developments.
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Shemtov » Sun 04 Feb 2018, 21:33

Xonen wrote:
Mon 29 Jan 2018, 16:58



. One thing that's sometimes mentioned as a similarity between Turkic and Uralic is vowel harmony, but I find that somewhat questionable, actually, since Proto-Uralic is probably better analyzed as not having any vowel distinctions apart from a two-way height contrast in non-initial syllables. That is, the complex vowel harmony systems of Ugric and Finnic are largely later developments.
Wiki lists PU as having VH, though it says it was much like Finnic. A more trustworthy source, Abondolo, in the introduction to Routledge's The Uralic Languages reconstructs a limited front-back system with the locative case being -na/nä, reconmstructing *kala-na "in a fish" vs. *witi-nä "in water", and posits a two-way hight contrast, */i y ɯ u æ ɑ/, with limited vowel harmony */u/ vs. */y/ and */æ/ vs. */ɑ/. While not as complex as PT, he mentions that the Eastern dialects of Meadow Mari have evolved a Turkic-like VH system, under the influence of Chuvash and Tatar; it is not implausible that pre-proto-Turkic had a vowel system like PU's, or that PU's contact with PT was limited, and thus absorbed only some bits of VH, or that PU is not part of a "Ugro-Altaic Macrosprachbund" but some branches of Finno-Ugric are part of a "Finno-Ugro-Altaic Macrosprachbund; the theory can be modified to what depth of Uralic we are talking about.
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Adarain » Sun 04 Feb 2018, 21:43

Shemtov wrote:
Sun 04 Feb 2018, 21:33
PU's contact with PT
Wasn’t Proto-Turkic spoken on the other side of Asia though?
At kveldi skal dag lęyfa,
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Mæki es ręyndr es,
Męy es gefin es,
Ís es yfir kømr,
Ǫl es drukkit es.
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Shemtov » Sun 04 Feb 2018, 22:28

Adarain wrote:
Sun 04 Feb 2018, 21:43
Shemtov wrote:
Sun 04 Feb 2018, 21:33
PU's contact with PT
Wasn’t Proto-Turkic spoken on the other side of Asia though?
Some suggest that the PU Urheimat was the Yugra and (Southern) Yamalia Autonomous Okrugs and Tomsk and Omsk Oblasts, while the PT Urheimat was Kazakhstan,Western Chinese Turkistan, The Altai Krai, and the Altai and Tuva Republics, maybe spilling over into Novosibirsk and the southern Tomsk oblasts.
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Xonen » Tue 06 Feb 2018, 16:56

Shemtov wrote:
Sun 04 Feb 2018, 21:33
Xonen wrote:
Mon 29 Jan 2018, 16:58



. One thing that's sometimes mentioned as a similarity between Turkic and Uralic is vowel harmony, but I find that somewhat questionable, actually, since Proto-Uralic is probably better analyzed as not having any vowel distinctions apart from a two-way height contrast in non-initial syllables. That is, the complex vowel harmony systems of Ugric and Finnic are largely later developments.
Wiki lists PU as having VH, though it says it was much like Finnic. A more trustworthy source, Abondolo, in the introduction to Routledge's The Uralic Languages reconstructs a limited front-back system with the locative case being -na/nä, reconmstructing *kala-na "in a fish" vs. *witi-nä "in water", and posits a two-way hight contrast, */i y ɯ u æ ɑ/, with limited vowel harmony */u/ vs. */y/ and */æ/ vs. */ɑ/.
Yeah, I'm a Uralicist, so I'm more or less aware of the traditional reconstruction. [;)] The problem is that the traditional reconstruction of PU used to be essentially Finnish with a few acutes tacked on. We've been slowly moving away from that model, but some things, such a vowel harmony, seem to have stuck, not because we actually have evidence for them, but because nobody's ever thought to seriously question them. Now, it's quite possible - probable even - that if the stressed vowel was front then vowels in following syllables would have had more fronted allophones, and ditto mutatis mutandis for back vowels, but I haven't really seen any evidence for reconstructing them as different phonemes. And unstressed vowels being influenced by the stressed vowel is an extremely common phenomenon, so it hardly requires any Sprachbunds to explain.

That being said, I can't claim to have read everything that's ever been written on the subject, so it's entirely possible I've missed something. In any case, though, the only front-back pair that most modern reconstructions seem to have occurring in non-initial syllables is */æ/ vs. */ɑ/.

While not as complex as PT, he mentions that the Eastern dialects of Meadow Mari have evolved a Turkic-like VH system, under the influence of Chuvash and Tatar; it is not implausible that pre-proto-Turkic had a vowel system like PU's, or that PU's contact with PT was limited, and thus absorbed only some bits of VH, or that PU is not part of a "Ugro-Altaic Macrosprachbund" but some branches of Finno-Ugric are part of a "Finno-Ugro-Altaic Macrosprachbund; the theory can be modified to what depth of Uralic we are talking about.
Yes, the Volga area languages do quite clearly form a Sprachbund that contains at least Mari, Mordvin and Udmurt and a whole bunch of Turkic languages, that's obvious just from looking at the present-day situation there. But this is relatively recent compared to the protolanguages.
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Shemtov » Tue 06 Feb 2018, 23:51

Xonen wrote:
Mon 29 Jan 2018, 16:58
Yes, the Volga area languages do quite clearly form a Sprachbund that contains at least Mari, Mordvin and Udmurt and a whole bunch of Turkic languages, that's obvious just from looking at the present-day situation there. But this is relatively recent compared to the protolanguages.
You're missing the part where I said that Proto-Finnic (and maybe Proto-Fennic, if Saamic relost an innovation) and Pre-Hungarian should be included.
Also, what of the idea that Tungusic overlaps the Altaic sprachbund and the putitive Tunguso-Koreano-Japonic sprachbund, based on the fact that Tungusic has tenseness VH, as Proto-Koreanic and Proto-Japonic are reconstructed ad having (We can then add some Mongolic Lang's to this.)
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Xonen » Thu 15 Feb 2018, 02:44

Shemtov wrote:
Tue 06 Feb 2018, 23:51
Xonen wrote:
Mon 29 Jan 2018, 16:58
Yes, the Volga area languages do quite clearly form a Sprachbund that contains at least Mari, Mordvin and Udmurt and a whole bunch of Turkic languages, that's obvious just from looking at the present-day situation there. But this is relatively recent compared to the protolanguages.
You're missing the part where I said that Proto-Finnic (and maybe Proto-Fennic, if Saamic relost an innovation) and Pre-Hungarian should be included.
Well, apparently, the current linguistic situation in the Volga area goes back to the second half of the first millennium... And while the timing and placement of Proto-Finnic are a matter of some debate, it was quite certainly spoken earlier and much further west than that. In fact, it was probably too far west to have been included in a Sprachbund with Turkic at any point in its history as a distinct branch.

Before emerging as a distinct branch, though, maybe? Like maybe all Finno-Ugric dialects from pre-Finnic to pre-Ugric were at one point members in such a Sprachbund with some early form of Turkic? I suppose that could explain some things, although my impression is that the geography and time period might still be difficult to reconcile (but I'd need to do more reading on this to say for sure). In any case, we run into the problem that there appears to be no clear lexical evidence. That is, Hungarian and the Volga area languages do have quite a lot of Turkic loanwords, of course, but they're at least largely of more recent origin.

Also, what of the idea that Tungusic overlaps the Altaic sprachbund and the putitive Tunguso-Koreano-Japonic sprachbund, based on the fact that Tungusic has tenseness VH, as Proto-Koreanic and Proto-Japonic are reconstructed ad having (We can then add some Mongolic Lang's to this.)
I don't really have any expertise on any of these language families, but... Again, is there lexical evidence? Structural similarities are, of course, tempting, but it tends to be difficult to definitively rule out the possibility of coincidence. And it's hard to imagine a Sprachbund sharing structural features without also sharing words.

Edit: Damn, I missed this. Since I personally have a strictly scientific view on historical linguistics, I'm guessing this conversation might be pretty much doomed from the start. [:S]
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by Shemtov » Fri 16 Feb 2018, 20:16

Xonen wrote:
Thu 15 Feb 2018, 02:44
Edit: Damn, I missed this. Since I personally have a strictly scientific view on historical linguistics, I'm guessing this conversation might be pretty much doomed from the start. [:S]
As I said to you in PM, aside from one family (or phylum) mentioned in that thread, I too have a strictly scientific view on historical linguistics; somebody can believe one thing is untrue and believe the rest; belief in the falsehood of one family (or phylum) does not a religious nutball make. If you or anyone else have any questions on how this works, feel free to PM me.

In any case, given that this theory does not involve that family (or phylum), I will respond with the fact that Fortescue (1981) links Eskimo–Aleut, Chukotko-Kamchatkan, Uralic, Altaic (which, given when he was writing, he considers a genetic unit) Koreanic, Japonic, and Ainu to be a "Siberian Sprachbund" based on the following:
SOV syntax
Suffixing Agglutination
Palatals
Sing v. Dual v. Plr in Proto-langs
Personal possessive suffixes on nouns
Only Voiceless stops in Proto-Langs
Indicative verbs as participles

He also has a long list of possible borrowings within the sprachbund.For Example:
Inuit /sila/ Manchu /sula/ Japanese "sora" PU *säŋe(?) "Sky; space; outside"



Dorais (2010) does not reject this theory, and takes an agnostic approach to it.
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Re: Sprachbund Theory

Post by eldin raigmore » Wed 11 Apr 2018, 18:53

Shemtov wrote:
Sun 28 Jan 2018, 01:58
I took out Greenberg's Monograph on his proposed Eurasiatic family, and while I disagree with it, there are some coincidences that need explaining. This has made me think a lot about Sprachbunds. I have come to two "revelations":
1. A language or language family can be part of more then one Sprachbund at a time.
2. There can be layers of Sprachbunds- just like for families.

Let's look at the Altaic Sprachbund to explore these Ideas. The Micro-Altaic Spachbund together with the Uralic languages are a "Macrosprachbund" The Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund. Pre-PU may have been in a Sprachbund with Pre-PIE, whose influence may have carried over to The Micro-Altaic Spachbund when PU joined the Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund. Tungusic "Overlaps" with the Micro-Altaic Sprachbund (and thus the Uralo-Altaic Macrosprachbund) with The Tunguso-Koreo-Japonic Sprachbund, which consists, of course of Tungusic, Koreanic, and Japanese. With Ainu, this may for a Macrosprachbund.
Thoughts?
This is interesting.

Until now the only macro-area I’d heard of was the Circum-Pacific. (I.e. everything within a thousand miles of the Pacific.)

That’s likely to be the macroest macroarea ever unless someone discovers/invents an Old World macroarea or some such thing.

But I see no logical reasons sprachbunds can’t overlap. I just never thought of it before.

OTOH. Greenberg among others was pretty clear that a sprachbund could contain members of more than one family; and also contain some members of a family but not others; and indeed one and the same sprachbund could do both.
And that implies that a given family could contain members of more than one sprachbund; while also containing languages belonging to no sprachbund.

I never before heard of a family that was completely contained in one sprachbund, or a sprachbund that completely contained a whole family. (Not counting isolates as one-language families!) Though I suppose if some families are small and some sprachbunds are huge it would inevitably happen occasionally.

I think there should be well-established ways to tell the difference between a genetic relationship and an areal relationship.
I wouldn’t think confusion would be long-standing unless data were hard to come by.
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