Lecture 1 : « African language classification beyond Greenberg »

Réalisation : 19 mars 2019 Mise en ligne : 19 mars 2019
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« Areal linguistics in Africa before a new approach to its genealogical language classification », Lecture 1 : « African language classification beyond Greenberg »,Tom Güldemann (Humboldt University – Berlin) LABEX EFL SEMINAR

Chaire Internationale 2019 : Le Labex accueille le Professeur Tom Güldemann - Université de Humboldt (Berlin)

The widely accepted genealogical classification of African languages to date is Greenberg’s (1963) scheme that comprises just four indigenous super-families, namely Khoisan, Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, and Afroasiatic. Despite the long-standing popularity of his proposal, specialists of historical-comparative linguistics have noticed that it is methodologically and empirically questionable (cf., e.g., Campbell and Poser 2008). This lecture provides a new comprehensive approach to genealogical language classification in Africa according to Güldemann (2018b) that is based on unitary criteria oriented toward the standards of the general discipline. According to such criteria, the publicly available evidence is only sufficient for accepting two large language families, Niger-Congo and Afroasiatic, both in a narrower sense. Greenberg’s two other supergroups, Khoisan and Nilo-Saharan, should for the time being be broken down into a number of smaller units. According to this approach, Africa is far more diverse than commonly assumed in hosting 40 to 45 linguistic lineages.

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