Lexicostatistics and Australian languages: Problems and prospects

Paul Black

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    The present paper begins by pointing out the limitations of more traditional comparative linguistic approaches and why we can expect lexicostatistics to perform better in Australia. Since it has sometimes been argued that the peculiarities of Australian languages could limit the applicability of lexicostatistics, I then draw on previously unpublished work to show (a) why name taboo cannot be expected to affect lexical change in Australia to anywhere near as great extent as has sometimes been imagined, (b) how proposed cases of rapid lexical change are not supported by the available evidence, and (c) how lexicostatistical approaches can be used to detect and cope with cases of heavy borrowing.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationBoundary rider
    Subtitle of host publicationEssays in honour of Geoffrey O'Grady
    EditorsDarrell Tryon, Michael Walsh
    Place of PublicationCanberra, ACT
    PublisherPacific Linguistics / ANU
    Number of pages19
    ISBN (Print)0858834402
    Publication statusPublished - 1997

    Publication series

    NamePacific Linguistics
    PublisherPacific Linguistics


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