Unchanged Cognates as a Criterion in Linguistic Subgrouping

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<ul><li><p>Linguistic Society of America</p><p>Unchanged Cognates as a Criterion in Linguistic SubgroupingAuthor(s): Bh. Krishnamurti, Lincoln Moses and Douglas G. DanforthSource: Language, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Sep., 1983), pp. 541-568Published by: Linguistic Society of AmericaStable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/413903 .Accessed: 12/11/2014 07:51</p><p>Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms &amp; Conditions of Use, available at .http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p><p> .JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range ofcontent in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org.</p><p> .</p><p>Linguistic Society of America is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Language.</p><p>http://www.jstor.org </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:51:06 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=lsahttp://www.jstor.org/stable/413903?origin=JSTOR-pdfhttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsphttp://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>UNCHANGED COGNATES AS A CRITERION IN LINGUISTIC SUBGROUPING </p><p>BH. KRISHNAMURTI LINCOLN MOSES DOUGLAS G. DANFORTH </p><p>Osmania University Stanford University Wang Laboratories If a sound change has lexically diffused without completing its course, one finds that </p><p>among the lexical items qualified for the change, some have already changed (c), others have remained unchanged (u), and still others show variant forms (u/c). When such a change has affected a group of genetically related languages, the consequent comparative pattern u-ulc-c can be used to set up subrelations among languages. In this paper, we draw on data from six languages belonging to the South-Central subfamily of Dra- vidian, with reference to an atypical sound change called 'apical displacement'. There are 63 etymologies which qualify for the study. A total of 945 possible binary-labeled trees fall into six types for the six languages under study. In terms of our postulates, that tree is the best which scores the lowest m, i.e. the minimum number of independent instances of change needed to account for the u-c-o (o = no cognate) pattern of a given entry. Each of the 63 entries has been applied to the possible 945 trees, and the trees have been scored for the value m by computer. The one tree which scored the lowest (71 points) is identical with the traditionally established tree for these languages. This paper shows that: (a) one shared innovation is sufficient to give genetic subrelations among languages, within the framework of the theory of lexical diffusion; (b) unchanged cognates are as important as changed cognates in giving differential scores for possible trees; and (c) the notion of shared innovation can be further refined within the theory of lexical diffusion.* </p><p>1. INTRODUCTION. In the standard theory of historical linguistics, subrela- tions among languages belonging to a family are established on the basis of 'shared innovations' (Dyen 1953:580-82, Hoenigswald 1966:7). Under ideal conditions, a family tree diagram can be constructed to reflect subrelationships among a group of genetically related languages: the more inclusive innovations account for branchings at higher nodes, while the more exclusive innovations correspond to branchings at lower nodes. A tree diagram also implies a relative chronology, with higher branchings representing older changes.' The short- comings of both the comparative method and the tree diagram are all too well- known to historical linguists. (For a lucid discussion, cf. Bloomfield 1933, </p><p>* When the central idea of this paper was conceived and developed, Krishnamurti and Moses were Resident Fellows at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (1975-76). Danforth was a statistics advisor at the Center. We all gratefully acknowledge the facilities provided for our collaborative work at the Center. We are indebted to the following for their useful and encouraging comments on an earlier draft of this paper: M. B. Emeneau, G. B. Kelley, Hans H. Hock, George Cardona, Paul Kiparsky, Chin-Chuan Cheng, and R. M. W. Dixon. William S-Y. Wang gets a major share of gratitude for his numerous insightful comments, which helped us in the revision of this paper. </p><p>'This is the point essentially implied by Hoenigswald (1960, ?13.2.4) when he says: 'Each dif- ferent reconstruction represents the proto-language of a subfamily. The component languages of those language pairs which yield identical reconstructions belong to one subfamily. If a language is thus found to belong to two subfamilies, that subfamily which is reconstructed from the smaller number of languages is, in turn, a subfamily within the subfamily reconstructed from the larger number of languages.' </p><p>541 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:51:06 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>LANGUAGE, VOLUME 59, NUMBER 3 (1983) </p><p>??18.9-13.) However, while their utility has not been rejected, no alternative procedure has yet been developed which captures subrelationships among the members of a language family in a more rigorous way.2 </p><p>In linguistic subgrouping, it is the presence or absence of an innovation (say, a sound change resulting in a phonemic merger or split) that is taken into account, rather than the extent to which it has affected cognate morphs in the related languages. To quote Hoenigswald (1966:8): </p><p>Brugmannian innovations are not for counting-the question, in principle, is whether they are at all present or entirely absent in a given set of descendant languages. Of course, this amounts to saying that if languages A and B share an authentic "innovation" as against lan- guage C, then there can be none linking C and B against A. Where this nevertheless happens, as it frequently does, it indicates the inadequacy of the family tree as a device to depict a language relationship.' </p><p>Recent studies have conclusively shown that at least some sound changes are lexically gradual; i.e., lexical items which fulfill the structural conditions of a sound change are not all affected by it at once (Chen &amp; Wang 1975). A commonly initiated sound change can spread across a set of related languages, engulfing more and more lexical items which qualify for the change; and the process may continue for several centuries. The number of innovative cognates (i.e. those affected by a given sound change) which any two languages share can then be taken as a measure of their relative distance. For instance, Lan- guages ABC may all show evidence of a shared innovation (a certain sound change), but AB may share more cognates-with-change; this would give us a subgrouping ((AB) C) as preferable to the possible subgroupings ((AC) B) and ((BC) A).3 </p><p>1.1. In a recent study of the areal and lexical diffusion of three sound changes in the South-Central group of Dravidian languages-viz. Gondi (G), Konda (K), Kui (Ku), Kuvi (Kv), Pengo (P), and Manda (M)-Krishnamurti 1978 </p><p>2 The method of lexicostatistics (also called glottochronology), proposed by Morris Swadesh, was much discussed in the 1950's as an alternative to traditional subgrouping. It is based on the hypothesis that, in any language, basic vocabulary is lost (or replaced) at a constant rate. The time- depth which separates any two languages of a family is calibrated by comparing the degree of loss in basic cognate vocabulary. In this theory, only the presence or absence of a 'true cognate' in a language matters, rather than how close a word is in form to cognates in the sister languages. Several aspects of this theory have been questioned, and it seems not to be as popular in historical studies now as it was two decades ago. For further details, see Gudschinsky 1956 (in Hymes 1964, with the latter's reference note). </p><p>3 Here the assumption is that, after the ancestor of AB had separated from C, the two branches would have different lexical schedules in the implementation of the inherited sound change. Con- sequently, the shared innovative cognates between AB would be more numerous than between either one of them and C. -Hsieh (1973:71) introduces the notion of 'diffusion overlapping' to represent 'the sharing or overlapping of the phonological forms in cognate items across dialects', and he proposes to utilize 'the degrees of diffusion overlapping with respect to a commonly initiated sound change' to measure 'the relative genetic closeness' of three or more dialects. (A discussion of this concept is also given by Krishnamurti 1978:12.) </p><p>542 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:51:06 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>UNCHANGED COGNATES </p><p>shows that a tree structure reflecting the hierarchical relationships of these languages can be constructed, taking into account the number of cognates- with-change that each language has shared with the other five. The result- ing tree diagram, shown here as Figure 1, perfectly matches the traditional diagram based on a number of phonological and morphological isoglosses (see Appendix I). </p><p>Proto- Gondi ........... Manda </p><p>Gondi Konda Kui Kuvi Pengo Manda </p><p>FIGURE 1. A tree diagram of the South-Central Dravidian languages. </p><p>An exact replica of Fig. 1 has also been produced with the aid of a computer program developed by Roy D'Andrade of the University of California, San Diego,4 using as input the numbers of cognates-with-change that each language has shared with the other five; it is given as Table I (overleaf; data taken from Krishnamurti 1978, Table 8). </p><p>2. A NEW APPROACH. The method of linguistic subgrouping proposed in the above studies mainly concerns itself with changed cognates, rather than with the cognates which remain unchanged in different languages. Within the frame- work of the theory of lexical gradualness of sound change, we find that con- sideration of unchanged cognates also has an important role to play in linguistic subgrouping. We introduce the postulate below, and we find that adherence to </p><p>4 It was through Matthew Y. Chen that Krishnamurti came to know in January 1977 about the 'U-statistic hierarchical clustering', a computer program developed by D'Andrade (cf. D'Andrade 1978). Chen used his good offices with D'Andrade to run the program, using as input the numbers given in Table 8 of Krishnamurti 1978; the resulting tree diagram is identical with that given by Krishnamurti. In a personal communication (2 March, 1977), Chen wrote to Krishnamurti: </p><p>'The above tree (I'll refer to it as Diagram A) makes 40 predictions, 37 of which proved correct, and 3 wrong. The incorrect predictions have to do with the peripheral dialects, namely Gondi and Konda. Diagram A predicts that Kuvi should be closer to Konda than it is to Gondi. This turns out to be incorrect, since Kuvi shared 20 innovative items with Konda but 22 with Gondi. This is mistake 1. Diagram A also predicts that Konda should be closer to Manda than it is to Gondi. Again this is wrong, since Konda shares only 9 items with Manda but as many as 16 with Gondi. Finally, on the basis of Diagram A, Manda should be closer to Konda than it is to Gondi, an inference contradicted by the fact that whereas Manda shares 9 items with Konda (as noted before), it shares 10 with Gondi. Nevertheless, 37 correct predictions out of 40, that is 0.9250 correct, is an unusually high score of correct prediction, as Dr. D'Andrade commented.' </p><p>543 </p><p>This content downloaded from on Wed, 12 Nov 2014 07:51:06 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions</p><p>http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp</p></li><li><p>LANGUAGE, VOLUME 59, NUMBER 3 (1983) </p><p>GONDI KONDA KUI Kuvi PENGO Konda 16 Kui 18 18 Kuvi 22 20 88 Pengo 11 19 48 49 Manda 10 9 40 42 57 </p><p>TABLE 1. Number of shared cognates-with-change. </p><p>it implies that certain trees 'fit' more naturally with observed distributions of changed and unchanged forms of cognates. The key idea will be made clear from the examples. </p><p>POSTULATE I. A lexical item may change its form (phonemic content and/or arrangement) after it has undergone a sound change, but a changed item will not revert to its unchanged form through a subsequent sound change. </p><p>This is based on the famous principle of the irreversibility of the effects of sound change, particularly phonological merger (Hoenigswald 1960, ?11.4). In the case of literary languages, it is possible that, after a sound change had completed its course, some of the changed lexical items might be replaced by corresponding unchanged ones borrowed from an earlier literary variety-pre- ferred in certain formal styles, and used by certain individuals in speech and/or writing.5 Such items must be identified and rejected by this postulate. Even in non-literary languages, comparativists can use several linguistic clues to detect borrowed unchanged items; these tend to be less systematically distributed than the changed forms, and also fewer in number. The co-occurrence of both changed and unchanged forms in synchronic usage is handled by Postulate II (see below, ?3.1). </p><p>The effect of Postulate I is that, when a lexical item is definitely known as 'changed' for a given language, it cannot be treated as 'unchanged'. We rep- resent this postulate schematically as follows (&gt; = becomes; &gt; = does not become): u &gt; c, c &gt; u. In the light of this postulate, we take an example and </p><p>5 Wang (p.c.) has drawn our attention to the fact that educated Swedish of Stockholm has recently revived, in formal styles, a word-final -d which had been lost earlier; this is a possible exception to Postulate I. Janson 1977, who has discussed this change, says that, between the 14th and 18th centuries, there is evidence for loss of word-final /d/ ([d] after 1, n, but [d] elsewhere) 'in the dialects of Southern Sweden'. The loss of the dental fricative [d] (spelled -dh) was very extensive, and spread to 'Svealand, the area where Stockholm is situated' (255-6). 'From the 18th century on, however, evidence in the written language for deletion of -d tapers off. Actually, the dentals must have been re-introduced in the endings -ad and -at in the language of the educated class' (256). Here, the revival or retention (the point is not clear from the paper) of word-final -d is apparently motivated by educated speakers of Stockholm on sociological and sociolinguistic grounds. A some- what parallel case occurs in Modern Telugu. Late Old Telugu (ca. 12th c. A.D.) had a sound change Cr- &gt; C- (C = voiced or voiceless stop), e.g. prata &gt; pata 'old', krotta &gt; kotta 'new', etc. Modern </p><p>Telugu has only the changed forms in both speech an...</p></li></ul>