This volume spotlights a venerable subfield of historical linguistics: etymology. On the one hand, etymology as traditionally understood is a purpose in itself in that it seeks to uncover the origins of words. On the other hand, by establishing diachronic connections between lexical items, it serves to establish historical links between languages or the affiliation of a given language with a language family already identified. In the latter sense, etymology is “a fundamental auxiliary discipline of historical linguistics,” as Mailhammer writes in his short introductory chapter (p. 1). The chapter bears the subtitle “Etymology beyond word histories.” This hints at the gist of the distinction between “structural” and “lexical” etymology, which Mailhammer attributes to Vennemann (2000) and which is also reflected in the volume’s title: “lexical etymology” indicates “traditional” etymology in the sense mentioned above—elucidating the origin of words and their connections. But, as the conception of etymology assumed here emphasizes, a broader perspective, which also takes into account the origins of phonological or morphosyntactic structures of languages, is possible. This is, roughly, what the term “structural etymology” means. Eight of the ten authors contributing to this volume have an affiliation with the Australian National University, and indeed,
Language Dynamics and Change – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2014
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