Simple Native American Language Classification

The place to discuss endangered languages, and efforts being made to revive them.
Yaziq
Posts: 121
Joined: Tue 19 May 2009 5:58 pm

Simple Native American Language Classification

Postby Yaziq » Wed 08 Aug 2012 5:05 pm

Linguist Joseph Greenberg devised a system of classifying Native American languages which divides them in three categories: Eskimo-Aleut, Na-Dene & AmerInd. Another name for Na-Dene would be Athabascan, I suppose. All others that don't fit into the first two categories are lumped together as AmerInd. Needless to say, there has been plenty of disagreement with this system. Lumping the Tarascan language with AmerInd would be a mistake, since it's not related to other languages. The system raises alot of questions in my mind. Is it relying mainly on vocabulary while neglecting to consider syntax structure? Does anyone have a better system? BTW, has anyone ever heard of a language called Eskimantiq or Eskimantic? I have not found any info on this possible language. Apparently, Native American languages are difficult to categorize.

Dan_ad_nauseam
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat 18 Apr 2009 5:25 am

Re: Simple Native American Language Classification

Postby Dan_ad_nauseam » Thu 09 Aug 2012 4:51 am

Ruhlen, following Greenberg, listed Athabaskan as a subfamily of Na-Dene. He also reported that one of Greenberg's primary arguments was the prevalence of t-initial second person singular.

Elijah
Posts: 96
Joined: Sat 28 May 2011 7:24 am
Location: Colorado in the US

Re: Simple Native American Language Classification

Postby Elijah » Fri 19 Oct 2012 1:01 am

Athabascan, Eyak, and Tlingit make up Na-Dene. Greenberg put Haida in there too, though everybody else considers Haida an isolate.

But you know what I don't get is how Greenberg could just create a hugely diverse macro-family like Amerind, and not have jack to back it up. I mean, it's ridiculously internally diverse, if it is a family at all, which I highly doubt.
Native: American English
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Dan_ad_nauseam
Posts: 232
Joined: Sat 18 Apr 2009 5:25 am

Re: Simple Native American Language Classification

Postby Dan_ad_nauseam » Sat 20 Oct 2012 2:34 am

Greenburg was a lumper. With regard to the Amerind hypothesis, I think this tendency got the better of him.


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