Memo to Self...

Monday, August 26, 2002

I have a course binder for Ling 303, so I see little point in putting up my notes here when I already do
copy them twice. :)

So, other classes notes. Though Ling. 292 is going to overlap 303, and Ling 331 actually overlaps a class
I took last semester, so...overlap ahead.

Ling. 292
If distributed evenly, each language in the world should have about 1 million speakers. But actually, only 5% do.
Dividing up the world:
About 1,000 languages in the Americas--1/5-1/6 of the world's languages.
About 2,000 languages in Africa, many of which have large numbers of speakers.
Europe has a little over 200, Asia about 400, Austrailia 234.
South and SE Asia--1400.
New Guinea--around 1100 languages, or somewhere between 1,000-2,000.

How are languages related to each other?
They group together in families. Spanish, Latin, French, Rumanian form part of the Romance language family. All are from a common
source, Latin. 2,000 years ago, it was the language of the conquering Romans, and it pushed aside Gaulish/other Celtic dialects, which
most of Europe spoke. Gaulish died in the 4th century. With Latin in so many places far from Rome, changes started in the language,
and by about 400 A.D., they didn't understand much of actual Latin.
Seguey--A conquering population, whether through military might or culturally, brings its language. The conquered population can either
have their language wiped completely out (often through the extinction of speakers), or assimilate the language of the conquerer. The second
case often leads to word swapping between languages, a sort of fusion.
English is an example of a language fusion--the Norman Conquest left a layer of Norman French over Anglo-Saxon.

Two factors differentiate languages--time and isolation.

Most languages are related to other languages--for example, Africa's 2000 languages break down into about four families.
A conservative estimate says there are 20 language families in the world, but it can go as high as 100.

Languages that are not related to other languages are called "language isolates"--the most famous examples being Zuni and Basque.

The Indo-European family includes the Romance, Germanic, Celtic, Hellenic, Albanian, Armenian, Indo-Iranian subfamilies of languages.
Between groups, they can be shown to be related to each other, and thus have a common ancestor in Indo-European.

The Uralic family of languages--Finnish, Estonian, Hungarian, Saami, maybe mas--do not show any relation to the groups in Indo-European,
therefore it is an entirely different family. The relationship between them goes too far back to be seen in the present.