Wave model

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Diagram based on the Wave model originally presented by Johannes Schmidt. In this Euler diagram, the circles are to be regarded as diachronic; that is, they increase in diameter over time, like the concentric waves on a water surface struck by a stone. The background represents a dialect continuum of no language boundaries. The circles are stable dialects, characters or bundles of characters that have been innovated and have become more stable over an originally small portion of the continuum for socio-political reasons. These circles spread from their small centers of maximum effectiveness like waves, becoming less effective
and then dissipating at maximum time and distance from the center. Languages are to be regarded as impermanent sets of speech habits that result from and prevail in the intersections of the circles. The most conservative language is represented by the area not covered by the circles. Wave model Schmidt.svg
Diagram based on the Wave model originally presented by Johannes Schmidt. In this Euler diagram, the circles are to be regarded as diachronic; that is, they increase in diameter over time, like the concentric waves on a water surface struck by a stone. The background represents a dialect continuum of no language boundaries. The circles are stable dialects, characters or bundles of characters that have been innovated and have become more stable over an originally small portion of the continuum for socio-political reasons. These circles spread from their small centers of maximum effectiveness like waves, becoming less effective and then dissipating at maximum time and distance from the center. Languages are to be regarded as impermanent sets of speech habits that result from and prevail in the intersections of the circles. The most conservative language is represented by the area not covered by the circles.

In historical linguistics, the wave model or wave theory (German Wellentheorie) is a model of language change in which a new language feature (innovation) or a new combination of language features spreads from its region of origin, affecting a gradually expanding cluster of dialects. The theory was intended as a substitute for the tree model, which did not seem to be able to explain the existence of some features, especially in the Germanic languages, by descent from a proto-language. At its most ambitious, it is a wholesale replacement for the tree model of languages. [1] During the 20th century, the wave model has had little acceptance as a model for language change overall, except for certain cases, such as the study of dialect continua and areal phenomena; it has recently gained more popularity among historical linguists, due to the shortcomings of the Tree model. [1] [2]

Historical linguistics, also called diachronic linguistics, is the scientific study of language change over time. Principal concerns of historical linguistics include:

  1. to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages
  2. to reconstruct the pre-history of languages and to determine their relatedness, grouping them into language families
  3. to develop general theories about how and why language changes
  4. to describe the history of speech communities
  5. to study the history of words, i.e. etymology
German language West Germanic language

German is a West Germanic language that is mainly spoken in Central Europe. It is the most widely spoken and official or co-official language in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, South Tyrol (Italy), the German-speaking Community of Belgium, and Liechtenstein. It is also one of the three official languages of Luxembourg and a co-official language in the Opole Voivodeship in Poland. The languages which are most similar to German are the other members of the West Germanic language branch: Afrikaans, Dutch, English, the Frisian languages, Low German/Low Saxon, Luxembourgish, and Yiddish. There are also strong similarities in vocabulary with Danish, Norwegian and Swedish, although those belong to the North Germanic group. German is the second most widely spoken Germanic language, after English.

Tree model theory in linguistics

In historical linguistics, the tree model is a model of the evolution of languages analogous to the concept of a family tree, particularly a phylogenetic tree in the biological evolution of species. As with species, each language is assumed to have evolved from a single parent or "mother" language, with languages that share a common ancestor belonging to the same language family.

Contents

Principles

The tree model requires languages to evolve exclusively through social splitting and linguistic divergence. In the “tree” scenario, the adoption of certain innovations by a group of dialects should result immediately in their loss of contact with other related dialects: this is the only way to explain the nested organisation of subgroups imposed by the tree structure.

Such a requirement is absent from the Wave Model, which can easily accommodate a distribution of innovations in intersected patterns. Such a configuration is typical of dialect continua (and of linkages, see below), that is, historical situations in which dialects share innovations with different neighbours simultaneously, in such a way that the genealogical subgroups they define form an intersected pattern. This explains the popularity of the Wave model in studies of dialectology.

A dialect continuum or dialect chain is a spread of language varieties spoken across some geographical area such that neighbouring varieties differ only slightly, but the differences accumulate over distance so that widely separated varieties are not mutually intelligible. That happens, for example, across large parts of India or the Arab world (Arabic). It also happened between Portugal, southern Belgium (Wallonia) and southern Italy and between Flanders and Austria. Leonard Bloomfield used the name dialect area. Charles F. Hockett used the term L-complex. It is analogous to a ring species in evolutionary biology.

In historical linguistics, a linkage is a group of related languages that is formed when a proto-language breaks up into a network of dialects that gradually differentiates into separate languages.

Dialectology is the scientific study of linguistic dialect, a sub-field of sociolinguistics. It studies variations in language based primarily on geographic distribution and their associated features. Dialectology treats such topics as divergence of two local dialects from a common ancestor and synchronic variation.

Johannes Schmidt used a second metaphor to explain the formation of a language from a continuum. The continuum is at first like a smooth, sloping line. Speakers in close proximity tend to unify their speech, creating a stepped line out of the sloped line. These steps are the dialects. Over the course of time, some steps become weak and fall into disuse, while others preempt the entire continuum. As example Schmidt used Standard German, which was defined to conform to some dialects and then spread throughout Germany, replacing the local dialects in many cases.

Johannes Schmidt (linguist) German linguist

Johannes Friedrich Heinrich Schmidt was a German linguist. He developed the Wellentheorie of language development.

Extinct language language that no longer has any speakers, or that is no longer in current use

An extinct language is a language that no longer has any speakers, especially if the language has no living descendants. In contrast, a dead language is "one that is no longer the native language of any community", even if it is still in use, like Latin. Languages that currently have living native speakers are sometimes called modern languages to contrast them with dead languages, especially in educational contexts.

Standard German, High German, or more precisely Standard High German,, is the standardized variety of the German language used in formal contexts, and for communication between different dialect areas. It is a pluricentric Dachsprache with three codified specific regional variants: German Standard German, Austrian Standard German, and Swiss Standard German.

Legacy

In modern linguistics, the wave model has contributed greatly to improve, but not supersede, the tree model approach of the comparative method. [3] Some scholars have even proposed that the wave model does not complement the tree model but should replace it for the representation of language genealogy. [1] The recent works have also focused on the notion of a linkage, [4] a family of languages descended from a former dialect continuum: Linkages cannot be represented by trees and must be analysed by the wave model.

Comparative method in linguistics, technique for studying the development of languages

In linguistics, the comparative method is a technique for studying the development of languages by performing a feature-by-feature comparison of two or more languages with common descent from a shared ancestor, in order to extrapolate back to infer the properties of that ancestor. The comparative method may be contrasted with the method of internal reconstruction, in which the internal development of a single language is inferred by the analysis of features within that language. Ordinarily both methods are used together to reconstruct prehistoric phases of languages, to fill in gaps in the historical record of a language, to discover the development of phonological, morphological, and other linguistic systems, and to confirm or refute hypothesised relationships between languages.

History

Advocacy of the wave theory is attributed to Johannes Schmidt and Hugo Schuchardt.

Hugo Schuchardt American linguist

Hugo Ernst Mario Schuchardt was an eminent German linguist, best known for his work in the Romance languages, the Basque language, and in mixed languages, including pidgins, creoles, and the Lingua franca of the Mediterranean.

In 2002 to 2007, Malcolm Ross and his colleagues theorized that Oceanic languages can be best understood as developing through the wave model. [5] [6]

Malcolm David Ross is an emeritus professor of linguistics at the Australian National University. He has published work on Austronesian and Papuan languages, historical linguistics, and language contact. He was elected as a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities in 1996.

Oceanic languages language family

The approximately 450 Oceanic languages are a well-established branch of the Austronesian languages. The area occupied by speakers of these languages includes Polynesia, as well as much of Melanesia and Micronesia.

See also

Related Research Articles

Language family group of languages related through descent from a common ancestor

A language family is a group of languages related through descent from a common ancestral language or parental language, called the proto-language of that family. The term "family" reflects the tree model of language origination in historical linguistics, which makes use of a metaphor comparing languages to people in a biological family tree, or in a subsequent modification, to species in a phylogenetic tree of evolutionary taxonomy. Linguists therefore describe the daughter languages within a language family as being genetically related.

Austronesian languages language family of Southeast Asia and the Pacific

The Austronesian languages are a language family that is widely dispersed throughout Maritime Southeast Asia, Madagascar and the islands of the Pacific Ocean, with a few members in continental Asia. Austronesian languages are spoken by about 386 million people (4.9%), making it the fifth-largest language family by number of speakers. Major Austronesian languages with the highest number of speakers are Malay, Javanese, and Filipino (Tagalog). The family contains 1,257 languages, which is the second most of any language family.

Malayo-Polynesian languages Language family

The Malayo-Polynesian languages are a subgroup of the Austronesian languages, with approximately 385.5 million speakers. The Malayo-Polynesian languages are spoken by the Austronesian people of the island nations of Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, with a smaller number in continental Asia, going well into the Malay peninsula. Cambodia and Vietnam serve as the northwest geographic outlier. On the northernmost geographical outlier does not pass beyond the north of Pattani, which is located in southern Thailand. Malagasy is spoken in the island of Madagascar located off the eastern coast of Africa in the Indian Ocean. Part of the language family shows a strong influence of Sanskrit and particularly Arabic as the Western part of the region has been a stronghold of Hinduism, Buddhism and, since the 10th century, Islam.

Polynesian languages Language family

The Polynesian languages form a language family spoken in geographical Polynesia and on a patchwork of outliers from south central Micronesia to small islands off the northeast of the larger islands of the southeast Solomon Islands and sprinkled through Vanuatu. Linguistic taxonomists classify them as a subgroup of the much larger and more varied Austronesian family, belonging to the Oceanic branch of that family.

Balto-Slavic languages language family

The Balto-Slavic languages are a branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It traditionally comprises the Baltic and Slavic languages. Baltic and Slavic languages share several linguistic traits not found in any other Indo-European branch, which points to a period of common development. It is now a general consensus among linguists to classify Baltic and Slavic languages into a single branch, even though some details of the nature of their relationship remain in dispute in some circles, usually due to political controversies. Some linguists however, have suggested that Balto-Slavic should be split into three equidistant groups: Eastern Baltic, Western Baltic and Slavic.

Philippine languages language family

In linguistics, the Philippine languages are a proposal by Zorc (1986) and Robert Blust that all the languages of the Philippines and northern Sulawesi—except Sama–Bajaw and a few languages of Palawan—form a subfamily of Austronesian languages. Although the Philippines is near the center of Austronesian expansion from Formosa, there is little linguistic diversity among the approximately 150 Philippine languages, suggesting that earlier diversity has been erased by the spread of the ancestor of the modern Philippine languages.

Western Oceanic languages

The Western Oceanic languages is a linkage of Oceanic languages, proposed and studied by Ross (1988).

Pohnpeic, also rendered Ponapeic, is a subgroup of the Chuukic–Pohnpeic branch of Micronesian in the Austronesian language family. The languages are primarily spoken in Pohnpei State of the Federated States of Micronesia.

The family of North Huon Gulf languages is a subgroup of the Huon Gulf languages of Papua New Guinea. It consists of 3 languages, all of which are distinguished by severe truncation of many inherited roots and the compensatory development of suprasegmentals on vowels: phonemic tone in Yabem and Bukawa and nasalization in Kela.

Proto-language

A proto-language, in the tree model of historical linguistics, is a language, usually hypothetical or reconstructed, and usually unattested, from which a number of attested known languages are believed to have descended by evolution, forming a language family.

Continuum theories or models explain variation as involving gradual quantitative transitions without abrupt changes or discontinuities. In contrast, categorical theories or models explain variation using qualitatively different states.

The family of Northwest Solomonic languages is a branch of the Oceanic languages. It includes the Austronesian languages of Bougainville and Buka in Papua New Guinea, and of Choiseul, New Georgia, and Santa Isabel in Solomon Islands.

Laurent Sagart is a senior researcher at the Centre de recherches linguistiques sur l'Asie orientale unit of the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).

Mwesen(formerly known by its Mota name Mosina) is an Oceanic language spoken in the southeastern area of Vanua Lava Island, in the Banks Islands of northern Vanuatu, by about 10 speakers.

The Chuukic–Pohnpeic or historically Trukic-Ponapeic languages are a family of Micronesian languages consisting of two dialect continua, Chuukic and Pohnpeic. They are the westernmost and historically most recent Micronesian languages.

References

  1. 1 2 3 François, Alexandre (2014), "Trees, Waves and Linkages: Models of Language Diversification" (PDF), in Bowern, Claire; Evans, Bethwyn, The Routledge Handbook of Historical Linguistics, London: Routledge, pp. 161–189, ISBN   978-0-41552-789-7 .
  2. Heggarty, Paul; Maguire, Warren; McMahon, April (2010). "Splits or waves? Trees or webs? How divergence measures and network analysis can unravel language histories". Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B. 365: 3829–3843. doi:10.1098/rstb.2010.0099. PMC   2981917 ..
  3. Labov, William (2007). "Transmission and diffusion". Language. 83: 344–387. doi:10.1353/lan.2007.0082.
  4. "I use the term linkage to refer to a group of communalects [i.e. dialects or languages] which have arisen by dialect differentiation" Ross, Malcolm D. (1988). Proto Oceanic and the Austronesian languages of Western Melanesia. Canberra: Pacific Linguistics. p. 8.
  5. Lynch, John; Malcolm Ross; Terry Crowley (2002). The Oceanic languages. Richmond, Surrey: Curzon. ISBN   978-0-7007-1128-4. OCLC   48929366.
  6. Ross, Malcolm and Åshild Næss (2007). "An Oceanic Origin for Äiwoo, the Language of the Reef Islands?". Oceanic Linguistics. 46: 456–498. doi:10.1353/ol.2008.0003.