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Words in Time and Place: Exploring Language Through the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary

By David Crystal

Offers a unique view of the English language and its development, and includes witty commentary and anecdotes along the way.


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The Indo-European Controversy: Facts and Fallacies in Historical Linguistics

By Asya Pereltsvaig and Martin W. Lewis

This book "asserts that the origin and spread of languages must be examined primarily through the time-tested techniques of linguistic analysis, rather than those of evolutionary biology" and "defends traditional practices in historical linguistics while remaining open to new techniques, including computational methods" and "will appeal to readers interested in world history and world geography."


Academic Paper


Title: On the power-law distribution of language family sizes
Author: Søren K. Wichmann
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://email.eva.mpg.de/~wichmann/
Institution: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Linguistic Field: Historical Linguistics
Abstract: When the sizes of language families of the world, measured by the number of languages contained in each family, are plotted in descending order on a diagram where the x-axis represents the place of each family in the rank-order (the largest family having rank 1, the next-largest, rank 2, and so on) and the y-axis represents the number of languages in the family determining the rank-ordering, it is seen that the distribution closely approximates a curve defined by the formula y=ax. Such 'power-law' distributions are known to characterize a wide range of social, biological, and physical phenomena and are essentially of a stochastic nature. It is suggested that the apparent power-law distribution of language family sizes is of relevance when evaluating overall classifications of the world's languages, for the analysis of taxonomic structures, for developing hypotheses concerning the prehistory of the world's languages, and for modelling the future extinction of language families.

CUP AT LINGUIST

This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 41, Issue 1, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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