Download PDF by Christopher Ehret: History and the testimony of language

By Christopher Ehret

This booklet is set heritage and the sensible strength of language to bare historic switch. Christopher Ehret bargains a methodological consultant to utilizing language facts in historic stories. He demonstrates how those equipment permit us not just to get better the histories of time sessions and areas poorly served through written documentation, but additionally to complement our knowing of well-documented areas and eras. a number one historian in addition to old linguist of Africa, Ehret offers in-depth examples from the language phyla of Africa, arguing that his complete therapy might be utilized by way of linguistically educated historians and old linguists operating with any language and in any quarter of the realm.

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E contributions of this kind of historical inference are the province of chapter 4, which explores this theme in depth. Systemic Semantic Shi in Word Histories A very different but also highly productive approach to the grouping together of word histories takes account of the findings of ethnoscience. e scholars of this branch of anthropology have shown that societies, each in their own various culturespecific ways, systematize their knowledge and their understanding of the cultural and natural worlds in which they operate.

Is technique, protective of fragile soils, involved cutting a narrow slit in the ground and planting a new cutting from a yam or other similar food plant in the slit. over the next several centuries aer 1000 bCE, the settlement of Mashariki people in lands with richer soils, along with changes in their crops, led to the complete loss of this practice among their descendants. Without this piece of linguistic testimony, an insight about earlier agricultural technology would have been lost. other words of ancient use in a language family will have undergone meaning shis in one or another daughter tongue.

Crowley, An Introduction to Historical Linguistics, 3rd ed. (oxford University Press, 1997). 33. J. ” History in Africa 17 (1990): 283–292. see chap. 4 of this book for the criteria he uses; see also C. Ehret, “e demographic implications of Linguistic Change and Language shi,” in C. Fyfe and d. ), African Historical Demography, vol. 2 (Edinburgh: Centre for African studies, 1981), pp. 153–182. 34. see n. 33. 2 Writing History from Linguistic Evidence L A nG UAG E H i sTory A n d H UM A n H i sTory Every language contains a wealth of historical documentation on the people who have spoken it in the past.

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