Abstract

This article reports on the peculiar distribution of languages lacking lexical differentiation for the concepts ‘sun’ and ‘moon’, i.e., languages that express both concepts with the same term or use terms that share lexical material. The phenomenon is largely confined to the Americas, but it is also found in indigenous languages of northeastern Eurasia (“Paleosiberian” languages) and languages of New Guinea. A representative sample of the world’s languages indicates that the areal distribution of the phenomenon is strongly correlated with the large and old Circum-Pacific language area, and it is argued that it can be interpreted as a historical marker that bears witness to the common history of these languages.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-6527
Print ISSN
0003-5483
Pages
pp. 328-346
Launched on MUSE
2010-10-15
Open Access
No
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