Some Principles on the use of Macro-Areas in Typological Comparison

Harald Hammarstrom, Mark Donohue

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


    While the notion of the 'area' or 'Sprachbund' has a long history in linguistics, with geographically-defined regions frequently cited as a useful means to explain typological distributions, the problem of delimiting areas has not been well addressed. Lists of general-purpose, largely independent 'macro-areas' (typically continent size) have been proposed as a step to rule out contact as an explanation for various large-scale linguistic phenomena. This squib points out some problems in some of the currently widely-used predetermined areas, those found in the World Atlas of Language Structures (Haspelmath et al., 2005). Instead, we propose a principled division of the world's landmasses into six macro-areas that arguably have better geographical independence properties.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)167-187
    JournalLanguage Dynamics and Change
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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