23.05.2015 - 00:12
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Department of Linguistics

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology

Deutscher Platz 6
D-04103 Leipzig

phone: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 300
fax: +49 (0) 341 3550 - 333

e-mail: cissewski@[>>> Please remove the brackets! <<<]eva.mpg.de

Past Research

Language Contact in Sri Lanka

This project investigates the interaction between the languages of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has, among all linguistic areas, the decisive advantage of being rather small with regard to the languages concerned (half a dozen or less) and  being geographically clearly defined, viz.. by the Indian Ocean. It is clear which languages are part of the geographical area, and which ones are not. In this project, we investigate  Sinhala (Indo-Aryan), Tamil (Dravidian), Sri Lanka Malay (Austronesian) and Sri Lanka Portuguese (Romance-based Creole). For the purpose of this project, these languages can be considered genetically unrelated. All four languages have relatives outside of Sri Lanka, distant by several thousand kilometres (except for Tamil, which is found at the tip of neighbouring India). These relatives can be used as a baseline to compare the Lankan structures against. The expected outcome of this project is an evalutation of the impact of genetic proximity (= vertical transmission)  compared with  the impact of geographical proximity (= horizontal transmission). 


  • Sebastian Nordhoff