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Dialect Classification

(5,323 words)

Author(s): Jerry NORMAN †
Whenever confronted with a body of complex data, a first step toward studying the data is classification. Thus, classification seems to be a natural preliminary in many if not most sciences. In this, linguistics is no different. In this field several different approaches to language classification have been used. The most common is genetic classification; that is, classifying languages or dialects by their common descent from a hypothesized earlier language. The Germanic languages are considered…
Date: 2017-03-02

Non-Chinese Substrates

(1,809 words)

Author(s): Jerry NORMAN †
The term substrate (or substratum) is frequently encountered in discussions of linguistic development. According to Thomason and Kaufman (1988:38), “substratum interference is a subtype of interference that results from imperfect group learning during a process of language shift.” They further state (1988:39) that “[substratum interference] does not begin with vocabulary but with sounds and syntax and sometimes includes morphology well before words.” However, it is often in the lexicon that the most…
Date: 2017-03-02

Manchu Language

(3,674 words)

Author(s): Jerry NORMAN † | Steve WADLEY
The term “Manchu” can refer either to the traditional written language or to various modern vernacular forms of the language. Manchu was first written at the very end of the16th century and has continued to be employed down to the present day. In Northeast China, the original home of the Manchu-speaking peoples, the spoken language is now on the verge of extinction (Dài 2004:535–554). Sibe (Xībó 錫伯), a Tungusic language spoken in the Ili Valley in Xīnjiāng and a couple of other places is, in rea…
Date: 2017-03-02