Distinguished Lecture by Joe Salmons: "When People Move, Languages Change: The Origins of German, and of its Speakers"
Jun 27, 2018
University of Wisconsin
MPI SHH Jena
Department of Linguistic and Cultural Evolution
One of many ways in which language can inform us of the past is through an exploration of which kinds of structural changes in language correlate with which kinds of population movements and contacts. This talk presents case studies through the long history and dialectal diversity of German, from prehistory to the present-day. Defining stages include the Migration Period and the mediaeval expansion into what is now eastern Germany, which was once Slavic-speaking. Different linguistic effects can help diagnose whether there was an abrupt shift from one language to another, or an extended period of contact and broad bilingualism, or where contacts were among speakers of closely related dialects, rather than clearly distinct languages.