Historical Linguistics and Language Change (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics)

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9780521453080: Historical Linguistics and Language Change (Cambridge Studies in Linguistics)

Language change happens in the spatio-temporal world. Historical linguistics is the craft linguists exercise upon its results, in order to tell coherent stories about it. In a series of linked essays Roger Lass offers a critical survey of the foundations of the art of historical linguistics, and its interaction with its subject matter, language change, taking as his background some of the major philosophical issues that arise from these considerations. The paradoxical conclusion is that our historiographical methods are often better than the data they have to work with.

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About the Author:

Roger Lass, Professor Emeritus of Linguistics and Honorary Research Associate in English at the University of Cape Town, is a Collaborating Scholar of the Institute for Historical Dialectology at the University of Edinburgh, where he is currently working on the Linguistic Atlas of Early Middle English.


"This is a useful and engaging book, discussing and illustrating principles of historical linguistics primarily with Indo-European examples." Keith Slater, Notes on Linguistics

"...this is a very learned, logically reasoned and very valuable book--the work of an outstanding historical linguist who has extraordinarily wide-ranging interests and a formidable memory. It is enjoyable reading....this is a work of impressive scholarship..." James Milroy, Diachronica

"...the book contains much of interst to students of language change at all levels. His examples and demonstrations of method would be of great value to newcomers to the field and, indeed, any of us can admire such perfect elucidation." Canadian Journal of Linguistics

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