Linguistics Seminar

March 4, 12:00pm - 1:15pm
Mānoa Campus, St. John Auditiorium (St. John, Room 011) Add to Calendar

Historical Linguistics & Endangered Languages by: Lyle Campbell, UHM-Linguistics Department

This talk explores the relationship between Endangered Languages and Language Change (historical linguistics), and the contributions each makes to the other.

(1) In it, I consider the implications of the number of known extinct languages for historical linguistic research in general -- 22% of all known extinct languages become extinct in the last 50 years. Of the c.420 independent language families and isolates, all the languages of exactly 100 of them are extinct – nearly 25% of the linguistic diversity of the world has been lost.

(2) I review the role fieldwork documentation in working out the history of various language families, including Indo-European.

(3) I investigate the kinds of changes encountered in endangered languages and attempt to evaluate claims about what this means for language change in general – for example, I address the claim that sound change in endangered language contexts need not be regular or natural.

(4) I call on discoveries from a specific language documentation project involving languages of the Chaco in South America, presenting findings that go against general thinking about what is possible in contact induced change, and examples involving other kinds of changes.

Event Sponsor
Linguistics Department, Mānoa Campus

More Information
Kavon Hooshiar, 956-8602,,

Share by email