[Lingtyp] Americanist contributions to typology

Alan Rumsey Alan.Rumsey at anu.edu.au
Mon Jul 4 08:31:40 EDT 2016


How about the development of the notion of 'switch reference' as a typological category?

This is a trick question on my part because although Jacobsen 1967 'Switch reference in Hokan-Coahuilecan' is often cited as the foundational work in this regard, such systems were already well known to German Lutheran missionary linguists working in New Guinea in the early 20th century, under the term 'Subjekt-Wechsel'.  One such system, in Kâte (a Finisterre-Huon language spoken around Finschhafen) was well described by Georg Pilhofer in his (1933) Grammatik der Kâte-Sprache. Pilhofer's colleague Hermann Strauss found such a system in the Melpa language (a Chimbu-Wahgi language spoken around Mount Hagen in the Western Highlands) and also described it under the rubric  'Subjekt-Wechsel' in his unpublished Grammatik der Melpa-Sprache, which was probably written between the mid 30s and the 1950s.

Alan
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