Language Isolates and their History

Authored by: Lyle Campbell

Language Isolates

Print publication date:  September  2017
Online publication date:  September  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138821057
eBook ISBN: 9781315750026
Adobe ISBN:

10.4324/9781315750026.ch1

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Abstract

How many language isolates are there in the world? (And, how many language families are there?) Most linguists do not know, and opinions vary greatly. To answer these questions is complicated because of differing views about fundamental issues in historical linguistics and because of the limited amount of information that is available to us on a good number of these languages. This chapter attempts to answer the questions: how many language isolates are there? How can we advance knowledge of the history of language isolates? What lessons does the study of specific isolates offer for understanding better the history of language isolates in general and of other specific isolates? What are the prospects for finding relatives for some language isolates, for showing that they belong together with other languages in a family of related languages? 1

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