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Northwestern Indo-Aryan and the rise of diversity 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: SALA-33, 2017Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Building on Nichols (2003), this is an attempt at characterizing the multilingual Hindu Kush-Karakoram region (northeastern Afghanistan, northern Pakistan and northernmost Kashmir) in terms of genetic stability and structural diversity, and a further development of the micro-typology suggested in Liljegren (2017). It also addresses the issue of areality or sub-areality. The structural features surveyed include grammatical gender, alignment, kinship and geomorphic systems. As the dominant phylogenetic component of the Hindukush-Karakoram is Indo-Aryan, regional representatives of that particular group (of which the majority were collectively referred to as “Dardic” in the past) are the main focus of the study, but naturally references will be made throughout to languages belonging to other genera in the region (Iranian, Nuristani, Tibeto-Burman, Turkic and Burushaski) as well as to Indo-Aryan in general. The features have been selected in order to represent (relatively) independent variables, each of them illustrating a unique (areal and sub-genetic) distribution, shaped by a variety of factors and competing forces at work.

The inherited sex-based gender system largely prevails in Hindu Kush Indo-Aryan (henceforth HKIA), with most of the languages making a two-way masculine vs. feminine distinction in their noun lexicons. However, at closer inspection, these languages – in spite of their relatedness – display a few signs of significant diversification: 1. The pervasiveness of such sex-based gender is stronger (and perhaps further strengthened) in the Southeast than elsewhere, i.e. among languages spoken adjacent to the main Indo-Aryan belt. 2. It is missing altogether in two languages spoken in the opposite geographic extreme, i.e. the Northwest (as earlier pointed out by Emeneau (1965:68–71) and Bashir (2003:823)), and is on the retreat in yet another neighbouring language (all three characterized by an animacy-contrast of low complexity). 3. The Southwest stands out with a few languages that instead combine their inherited sex-based gender with animacy-related distinctions and thereby form highly complex agreement patterns.

As for alignment patterns, the HKIA languages display a great range of variation (as laid out in further detail in (Liljegren 2014)). The diversity is primarily evidenced in the case marking of core argument noun phrases and verbal person marking properties. As many as six distinct alignment types have been identified, each reflecting contact-induced changes that can be attributed to three significant areas that conflate in the region: 1. A large Persian-dominated area overlaps with the Western part of the region, characterized by overt patient marking. 2 An area in the East, with e.g. ancient Tibetan influences, is characterized by overt agent marking. 3 An area in the South, bordering on the influential Hindi-Urdu belt, is characterized by patient agreement in the perfective.

For kinship as a feature, the present study is restricted to the lexical items used for one’s parents and their siblings. Here, too a great deal of variation is displayed, with a total of six verified configurations. In essence, however, the distribution is the result of three competing systems (the remaining three constituting hybrids), each with a clear geographical distribution: 1. A maximum differentiating terminology, with six different terms (F≠FB≠MB/M≠MZ≠FZ) dominates in a southern belt, thus aligning itself with Punjabi kinship systems. 2. A pattern F=FB≠MB/M=MZ≠FZ is an eastern or northeastern feature, possibly reflecting the ancestral terminology of Burushaski (Parkin 1987:165) and the one used in Balti, the nearest Tibeto-Burman neighbour; if looking at the distribution of F=FB only, it appears typical of the languages spoken in an uninterrupted central belt, stretching all the way from the extreme Southwest to the extreme Northeast. 3. An “aunt” and “uncle” terminology (F≠FB=MB/M≠MZ=FZ) is found in the Northwest (consistently so in a single HKIA language), with obvious reflexes in adjacent non-Indo-Aryan communities in the Pamir.     

Although deserving a more careful cross-linguistic study, a preliminary survey reveals the presence of a geomorphic system of spatial reference in a few of the HKIA languages spoken in a subarea in the West, whereas it seems virtually absent in other parts of the larger region. Languages in this subarea (along with neighbouring Nuristani languages) linguistically encode the inclination of the mountain slope, the flow of the river as well as boundary-crossing. This partly confirms Palmer’s (2015) so-called Topographic Correspondence Hypothesis, predicting that a language’s system of spatial reference will reflect the topography of the surrounding landscape. However, that the emergence and pervasiveness of such a system is further conditioned by language contact, is evidenced by the subareal clustering of a few other structural features –retroflex vowels, pronominal kinship suffixes and bisyndetic contrast marking (Liljegren & Svärd Forthcoming) – coinciding with the boundaries of “Peristan”, an area that until relatively recently constituted a pre-Islamic cultural sphere with Nuristan (previously referred to as Kafiristan) as its most prominent local centre of influence (Cacopardo & Cacopardo 2001: 249–250; Klimburg 2008; Jettmar, Jones & Klimburg 1975: 394).

 

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017.
National Category
General Language Studies and Linguistics
Research subject
Linguistics
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159719OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-159719DiVA, id: diva2:1245092
Conference
The 33rd South Asian Languages Analysis Round Table SALA-33, Poznan, Poland, May 15-17, 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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