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Big Mamas, Little Papas and Milk Brothers: Kin classification and other semantic isoglosses in the Hindu Kush-Karakoram
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Linguistics, General Linguistics.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-3907-0930
2017 (English)In: Book of Abstracts, 2017Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

The Hindu Kush-Karakoram, or the mountain region of northern Pakistan, north-eastern Afghanistan and the northern-most part of Indian Kashmir, is home to approximately 50 languages belonging to six different genera: Indo-Aryan, Iranian, Nuristani, Tibeto-Burman, Turkic and the isolate Burushaski. Areality research in this region is only in its early stages, and while its significance as a convergence area has been suggested by several scholars (Toporov 1970; Èdel’man 1980; 1983:16; Bashir 1996; 2003:823; Tikkanen 1999; 2008; Baart 2014), only a few, primarily phonological and grammatical, features have been studied in a more systematic fashion. Cross-linguistic research in the realms of semantics and lexical organization has been given considerably less attention, but preliminary findings (Liljegren 2017:143–148; Koptjevskaja-Tamm & Liljegren 2017) indicate that features are geographically bundled with one another, across genera, in significant ways, displaying semantic areality on multiple levels throughout the region or in one or more of its sub-regions. A number of semantic features are being investigated in an ongoing areal-linguistic study, in which first-hand data has been collected from speakers of most of the region’s many languages.

A highly promising domain for research is kinship systems and the way in which their distributions reflect cross-community relationships. Taking kinship terms for one’s parents and their siblings as an example, a number of the region’s centrally located languages have a basic term covering both ‘father’ and ‘father’s brother’ (often lexically distinct from ‘mother’s brother’), with the latter meaning becoming lexicalized in combinations with qualifying adjectives ‘big’ and ‘small’, where big father is one’s father’s older brother and small father is one’s father’s younger brother. Similarly, there is a widespread polysemy pattern for ‘mother’ and ‘mother’s sister’, but again with ‘big’ and ‘small’ only used for ‘mother’s sister’. This pattern, found in a number of Indo-Aryan and Nuristani languages also reflects what has been posited as the ancestral kin terminology of Burushaski (Parkin 1987:165), the region’s only language isolate, while also being the terminology used in Balti, the nearest Tibeto-Burman neighbour. In contrast, languages in a southern belt instead uses a maximum differentiating terminology (F≠FB≠MB≠M≠MZ≠FZ), thus aligning itself with lowland Punjabi kin organization; and at the northwestern periphery, a cluster of languages, Indo-Aryan as well as Iranian, instead use an “aunt” (MZ=FZ≠M) and “uncle” (FB=MB≠F) terminology.

Comparisons are made between the geographical distribution of kinship systems and those of a few other convergence features similarly related to the organization of entire semantic domains (particularly numerals, calendrical expressions, spatial reference and demonstratives), polysemy sharing, shared lexico-constructional patterns and area-specific lexicalizations. In a few cases, particular patterns or configurations cluster both with one another, with the presence of other linguistic features (for example rare phoneme sets, contrasting constructions and kinship suffixes) as well as with non-linguistic factors such as shared cultural values or religious (particularly pre-Muslim) identities and a long history of close cross-community interaction and intermarriage (Liljegren & Svärd 2017).

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159725OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-159725DiVA, id: diva2:1245101
Conference
The 12th meeting of the Association for Linguistic Typology, Canberra, Australia, December 12-14, 2017
Projects
Language contact and relatedness in the Hindukush region
Funder
Swedish Research Council, 421-2014-631Available from: 2018-09-04 Created: 2018-09-04 Last updated: 2018-09-06Bibliographically approved

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