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Diachronic instability of oligosynthesis

From:Peter Bleackley <peter.bleackley@...>
Date:Friday, January 20, 2006, 12:10
I had a thought the other day. Let us suppose that we have an
oligosynthetic language, i.e. few roots, but lots and lots of derivational
affixes. Over time, it seems likely that sound changes might cause the
derivational affixes to fuse with the roots in unpredictable ways, thus
effectively turning lots of root+affix combinations into new roots, while
simultaneously causing the derivational affixes to lose their productivity.
Ultimately, an oligosynthetic language would be highly likely to evolve
into a non-oligosynthetic one. Could this be the reason why there are no
undisputed cases of oligosynthesis in the wild?



Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>