Damian Blasi to speak on ' The Arrow of Time in Linguistics: The Case for the Recent Emergence of Labiodentals '
On March 18, Damian Blasi (University of Zurich) is giving a lecture on 'The Arrow of Time in Linguistics: The Case for the Recent Emergence of Labiodentals'. The lecture is organized by the Linguistic Convergence Laboratory and the School of Linguistics.
The linguistic processes we observe in the present have been systematically used to make inferences about the past, e.g. in the form of regular sound changes, transitions between word order types or general morphological profiles. The success of this uniformitarian principle rests on the fact that the behavior and the biology of humans relevant to language has largely remained the same, at least since the period covered by historical linguistics (which roughly coincides with the start of the Holocene.) In this presentation I discuss one case study where convergent evidence from paleoanthropology, speech sciences, historical linguistics and quantitative typology points out to the same conclusion at odds with the uniformitarian principle: labiodental consonants became as frequent as they are today (which can be found in about half of the world's languages) thanks to processes that are only a few millennia old.
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