Deep linguistic prehistory with particular reference to Andamanese *

Research output: Working paper


In 1992, American linguist Johanna Nichols introduced a new method of detecting typological patterns at great time depths, based on the morphological analysis and cross-linguistic comparisons of several structural types and grammatical categories (Nichols 1992). She claimed that her method reveals patterns that may go back as far as the initial modern human colonization of the globe, and she set up a preliminary model of early linguistic spread. Has Nichols taken a ground-breaking step towards a greater understanding of our distant linguistic past? And how can we test this?
Towards the end of her book, Nichols 1992:263-65 calls for an analysis of ‘critical’ languages which are in a unique position to fill the gaps in her study and thus essential to our understanding of global linguistic prehistory. Using Nichols’ method as a testing model, this article highlights one such critical language group – the Andamanese language family, spoken by the indigenous Negrito population on the Andaman Islands, in the Bay of Bengal – in an effort to shed further light on the distant linguistic past of our species.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • General Language Studies and Linguistics
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Publication categoryResearch

Publication series

NameWorking Papers, Lund University, Dept. of Linguistics

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Linguistics and Phonetics (015010003)

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