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On Relating Languages

From:Nicolas Walker <bitemeagain_walker@...>
Date:Sunday, January 23, 2005, 17:34
Yet more questions for the list (my third this week!), but on a different
subject to both 'Antecedant Prepositions to Suffixes ???' and 'The Long
Vowel Rule'. My questions today concern language families.

I have three languages on the go, seperately concieved, yet structured
(unintentionally) around similar 'design principles'. Upon realising that
these languages were indeed related in some obscure ways, I thought
perhaps I might be able to actually relate one to the other. I'm not big
on 'con-worlding'(though I will conceed to have 'dabbled'), so I would
prefer the  to be on a 'real' linguistic level. I naturally thought of
language families.


(1) In what ways may languages show relationship? I am aware of the main
ones, but cannot find a comprehensive list or extended explanation. To
cite only one of many examples, does the invariable nature of the
adjective constitute grounds for a relationship? What about the
substitution of the grapheme 'i' for [j]? What are the
really 'interesting' ways a langauge can be related to another?

(2)The phonology of each language is different, although they all
fairly 'normal' (I suppose that is to say Indo-European). The approximate
real word equivalent off each sound system would be (1)German(ic) (2)
Arabic (3)Gaelic. Therefore,
(a)In what main ways do sound systems diverge, in particular those
mentioned above - i.e. Gaelic, German, Arabic.
(b)How might I show relationship between, for example, one language with 5
vowels ([a],[e],[i],[o],[u]), another with only 3 ([a],[e],[u]), and a
third with a long list of glides, diphthongs and 'soft' (as in Russian)
prononunciations. I suppose what I am getting at is, at what point is a
language UNRELATABLE to the next?

(3)What is the 'correct' academic fashion to explain and express
relationship and langauge families. What are the accepted norms when it
comes to comparative method, family trees, dialects, orthography etc.?


damien perrotin <erwan.arskoul@...>
# 1 <salut_vous_autre@...>
Roger Mills <rfmilly@...>