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Journal Article

Some principles on the use of macro-areas in typological comparison


Hammarstroem,  Harald
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
Center for Language Studies , External Organizations;

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Hammarstroem, H., & Donohue, M. (2014). Some principles on the use of macro-areas in typological comparison. Language Dynamics and Change, 4, 167-187. doi:10.1163/22105832-00401001.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-0014-C71B-2
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