Minority languages and their value to linguistic studies: beyond sociolinguistics

Junichi Toyota

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper, not in proceedingpeer-review


Language diversity and minority languages are closely connected and documentation of minority languages is particularly valuable in respect to historical studies, i.e. less-documented languages which are on the verge of extinction often present valuable pieces of information to indicate what languages in the past might have looked like (cf. uniformitarian principle). For instance, the development of earlier verbal inflection often consisted of gerund or verbal noun form used along with the copula verbs. The tense-aspectual inflection was made only on the copula, but rarely on the main verbs themselves. This grammatical state can be hinted from the development of words corresponding ‘yes’ and ‘no’ – a word for ‘yes’ is often derived from the copula verb. Judging from the fact that some languages in the world lack such words and they simply repeat the verb for reply, the copula was earlier used more frequently than in modern languages. This line of development is actually visible in, for instance, minority languages such as the Celtic languages. Without such languages, our argument remains highly speculative, but thanks to documentation and analysis of these languages, one can make a large step forward in different field of linguistic analysis. This suggests that one should re-appreciate the value of minority languages.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2009
EventLanguage, Literature, Identity - Nis, Serbia
Duration: 2009 Apr 242009 Apr 25


ConferenceLanguage, Literature, Identity

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Languages and Literature


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