Department of Linguistics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone.: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 300
fax: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 333
Language Areality in Ancient Eurasia
The research will provide a linguistic overview over the known languages spoken in that time, and the determination of areal patterns within this group of languages. This includes testing of the present areal patterns, such as Balkan, Europe, South Asia, South East Asia, and other areals, but also typological enclaves in the Caucasus and Himalayas. Additionally, the project includes a search for other areals that are not longer found in the present languages. The findings of the ancient patterns will then be compared with the present-day patterns. The explanations for the changes in areal patterns that occurred within the past three millenia will give us an insight into the history of areality and certainly provides us with possibilities to go deeper into the history of human languages.
The methods used to test for areal patterns are statistical methods invented in the past 15 years for this purpose. Dealing with ancient languages is different from dealing with living languages, since nobody can provide us with more information than we can find from the ancient texts. For this reason the methods will have to be adapted to be as much as possible able to compute the often poor data from the ancient languages.
- Thomas Goldammer