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MESO-AMERICA AS A LINGUISTIC AREA Lyle Campbell Terrence Kaufman Thomas C. Smith-Stark SUNY AlbanyUniversity ofColegio de México Pittsburgh That Meso-America constitutes a legitimate linguistic area has been questioned. To address this question, concepts of 'areal linguistics' are here surveyed and refined. Proposed Meso-American areal traits are reconsidered against these findings, and are compared with those of other established linguistic areas. Meso-America proves to be a particularly strong linguistic area. These results contribute both to the study of MesoAmerican languages and to an understanding of areal linguistics generally.* In recent years it has been proposed that Meso-America (henceforth MA)— defined basically as a culture area extending from central Mexico through northern Central America—is a linguistic area. The first attempts at characterizing the area were made by Hasler 1959, Kaufman 1973, 1974a,b, Campbell 1971, 1977, 1978a, 1979, and Campbell & Kaufman 1980, 1983 (see also Bright 1984, Rosenthal 1981); nevertheless, doubts have been expressed (cf. Hamp 1979, Holt & Bright 1976, Suárez 1983a). Some have thought that MA is not a single, well-defined area in the sense of others recognized in the literature, such as the Balkans or South Asia, but rather may be composed of several smaller, regionally defined areas (cf. Hamp 1979). For that reason, our primary purpose here is to investigate MA in detail from an areal viewpoint. However, to determine MA's status requires us first to clarify the nature and definition of linguistic areas in general. We will do this in §§1-3, and then return to the characteristics of MA in §4. 1. Definition of Areal Linguistics. As broadly conceived, AL deals with the results of the diffusion of structural features across linguistic boundaries. As commonly viewed, linguistic areas are characterized by a number of linguistic features shared by various languages—some of which are unrelated, or are from different subgroups within a family—in a geographically contiguous area. The phenomena of the linguistic area are also referred to at times by the terms 'convergence area', 'Sprachbund', 'affinité linguistique', 'diffusion area', 'adstratum' etc.1 However, when it comes to more precise definitions, there is considerable controversy concerning just what AL is. * We wish to thank William Bright and Sarah G. Thomason for helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper; but we do not mean to imply that they are necessarily in agreement with our use of their statements. We also acknowledge the Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, for providing Lyle Campbell the opportunity to engage in full-time research in 1981-82, during which time he did the research for this paper and wrote up a preliminary version. Terrence Kaufman and Thomas Smith-Stark have evaluated the original manuscript and made various additions to it. Thus the list of authors reflects not only alphabetical order, but relative input to the final product. We three authors are in essential agreement concerning the arguments and conclusions. 1 Areal phenomena are, to a greater or lesser degree, related to such other areas of study as multilingualism, substrata, superstrata, linguistic geography, borrowing, and language shift or main530 MESO-AMERICA AS A LINGUISTIC AREA531 Many attribute the formal birth of AL to Trubetzkoy's famous proposition 16, presented at the First International Congress of Linguistics (1928:17—18):2 'Gruppen, bestehend aus Sprachen, die eine grosse Ähnlichkeit in syntaktischer Hinsicht, eine Ähnlichkeit in den Grundsätzen des morphologischen Baus aufweisen, und eine grosse Anzahl gemeinsamer Kulturwörter bieten, manchmal auch ausser Ähnlichkeit im Bestände der Lautsysteme —dabei aber keine gemeinsamen Elementarwörter besitzen—solche Sprachgruppen nennen wir Sprachbunde.' (emphasis in original) Trubetzkoy's term Sprachbund, roughly a 'union of languages', came to be used as a technical term in English. The name 'linguistic area' (LA), as a translation of Sprachbund, was first employed by Veiten 1943, and was made well known by Emeneau 1956. Trubetzkoy (1931:233-4) compared AL to traditional dialect geography, but with 'isoglosses' which extend beyond the boundaries of a single language. This view of LA's as akin to the features characterizing cross-language linguistic geography is common in later literature (cf. Jakobson 1931, 1938). tenance; in this...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 530-570
Launched on MUSE
2015-04-01
Open Access
No
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