Article published in:Language Typology and Historical Contingency: In honor of Johanna Nichols
Edited by Balthasar Bickel, Lenore A. Grenoble, David A. Peterson and Alan Timberlake
[Typological Studies in Language 104] 2013
► pp. 383–394
Some observations on typological features of hunter-gatherer languages
The introduction of agriculture is a major event in human history, and this article offers a preliminary investigation into whether there might be structural features of language correlating with the distinction between languages spoken by hunter-gatherers and agriculturalists. A number of feature values treated in the World Atlas of Language Structures suggest promising results, in particular in relation to constituent order, phonology, and lexical typology. Hunter-gatherer languages favor (or agriculturalist languages disfavor) absence of a dominant order of major sentence constituents, absence of adpositions, absence of a dominant constituent order of noun and genitive, presence of subject clitics on a variable host, presence of initial interrogatives; a small vowel inventory, no tone, no voicing opposition in plosives and fricatives; and the lexicalization Finger = Hand ≠ Arm.
Published online: 13 December 2013
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