Textbook: None; course materials will be handed out. Background reading: Steven Pinker. The Language Instinct. (NY 1994: HarperCollins).
Terry Crowley, An introduction to historical linguistics, 2nd ed. (Oxford 1992: Oxford U. Press).
Reference: Hans Hock, Principles of historical linguistics (Berlin 1986: Mouton de Gruyter).
Note that assigned readings should have been read, and homework will be due, the next class period after they are assigned unless other arrangements are announced.
Week 1: introduction.
1/15 Basic overview of the subject; basic requirements for an objective approach; the uniformitarian principle. 1/17 Formal and social aspects of language; the irrelevance of writing to language structure and change. 1/19 Sketch of the structure of natural human language.
Week 2: unsystematic language change.
1/22 Lexical change: borrowing. 1/24 Semantic change. 1/26 Changes in derivational morphology.
Week 3: "analogical" change in inflectional morphology.
1/29 Inflectional morphology: an overview. 1/31 The development of majority paradigms. Case study: Germanic languages. 2/2 Levelling. Case study: Ancient Greek verbs.
Week 4: "analogical" change, continued.
2/5 Larger patterns: KuryLowicz's fourth "law" of analogy; lexical split. 2/7 Morphological "deep" structure. 2/9 Morphological changes on an abstract level. Case study: case marking.
Week 5: the sounds of human language; sound change.
2/12 Basic phonetics: English sounds. 2/14 Basic phonetics: some non-English sounds. 2/16 Some common types of sound change: assimilation and lenition.
Week 6: sound change, continued.
2/19 Some common types of sound change: chain shifts of vowels. 2/21 Motivating sound change by slippage in timing (target undershoot, target overshoot, temporal overlap of gestures). 2/23 Slippage in timing: more complex cases.
Week 7: the phoneme.
2/26 Organization of language sounds on the principle of contrast. 2/28 How to phonemicize data: a demonstration. 3/1 Phonemicization problems.
Week 8: midterm week.
3/4 Midterm review session. 3/6 MIDTERM. 3/8 (No class; instructor out of town.)
Week 9: the phoneme and phonemic change.
3/18 Phonemicization problems. 3/20 Phonemicization problems. 3/22 Sound change: patterns of phonemic merger.
Week 10: phonemic change, continued.
3/25 Patterns of phonemic split. 3/27 Phonemic change problems. 3/29 Phonemic change problems.
Week 11: comparative reconstruction.
4/1 Demonstration of the comparative method. 4/3 Reconstruction problems. 4/5 Reconstruction problems.
Week 12: comparative reconstruction, continued.
4/8 Reconstruction problems. 4/10 Reconstruction problems. 4/12 Reconstruction problems.
Week 13: recognizing distant relationships.
4/15 The problem: chance resemblances are startlingly common. 4/17 Probability theory: some rules of thumb and how to apply them. 4/19 Problem in recognizing distant relationships.
Week 14: the threshold of reconstructability.
4/22 Loss of basic lexical material over time; establishing a threshold of reconstructability. 4/24 Beyond the threshold: Johanna Nichols' work. 4/26 [Topic open.]