Re-reconstructing Proto-Basque: Towards a new methodology for the reconstruction of a linguistic isolate
16 Novembre à 11h en salle B011
This talk briefly presents a prospective project that aims to improve our current understanding of Basque historical phonology by incorporating recent advances in theories of phonetically based sound change, contact linguistics and phonological typology and by using state-of-theart quantitative and experimental techniques. The new approach is to combine the historicalcomparative method with phonetic detail and quantitative typological data for studying the historical sound patterns of a language isolate such as Basque, in which the comparative method finds most difficulties. The talk will focus on the evolution of the opposition between /h/ and /h̃/ (only documented in two other languages), the changes in the phonetic cues underlying the opposition between the two stop series (from [spread glottis] to voicing), and changes in the accentual system (from phrasal pitch accent to word-level systems, based on pitch or stress depending on the dialect).
The long-term significance of the project lies in contributing to the reconstruction of the phonology of Proto-Basque as well as to both typologies of phonetically based sound change and sound change in situations of linguistic contact. An indirect and major benefit of the project is that it will provide a new methodology for the study of the historical phonologies of language isolates.