Fusion, exponence, and flexivity in Hindukush languages : An areal-typological study

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Avdelningen för allmän språkvetenskap

Abstract: Surrounding the Hindukush mountain chain is a stretch of land where as many as 50 distinct languages varieties of several language meet, in the present study referred to as “The Greater Hindukush” (GHK). In this area a large number of languages of at least six genera are spoken in a multi-linguistic setting. As the region is in part characterised by both contact between languages as well as isolation, it constitutes an interesting field of study of similarities and diversity, contact phenomena and possible genealogical connections. The present study takes in the region as a whole and attempts to characterise the morphology of the many languages spoken in it, by studying three parameters: phonological fusion, exponence, and flexivity in view of grammatical markers for Tense-Mood-Aspect, person marking, case marking, and plural marking on verbs and nouns. The study was performed with the perspective of areal typology, employed grammatical descriptions, and was in part inspired by three studies presented in the World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS). It was found that the region is one of high linguistic diversity, even if there are common traits, especially between languages of closer contact, such as the Iranian and the Indo-Aryan languages along the Pakistani-Afghan border where purely concatenative formatives are more common. Polyexponential formatives seem more common in the western parts of the GHK as compared to the eastern. High flexivity is a trait common to the more central languages in the area. As the results show larger variation than the WALS studies, the question was raised of whether large-scale typological studies can be performed on a sample as limited as single grammatical markers. The importance of the region as a melting-pot between several linguistic families was also put forward.

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