Colloquium with Prof. James A. Matisoff, University of California, Berkeley
The hundreds of languages spoken in East and Southeast Asia belong to several different language families (Sino-Tibetan, Hmong-Mien, Tai-Kadai, Mon-Khmer, Austronesian), but millennia of close contact have led to homogenization in all areas of linguistic structure. This talk will discuss some of the most important of the areal features characteristic of this region: phonological (e.g. monosyllabicity and tone), morphological (e.g. compounding and elaboration), grammatical (e.g. aspectual systems, classifiers, sentential nominalizations, particles), and semantic (e.g. greeting behavior). Emphasis will be placed on the complex issues involved in distinguishing genetic vs. contact relationship.
James A. Matisoff is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He is considered one of the world's leading authorities on the languages of mainland Southeast Asia. He is a founder of the annual International Conferences on Sino-Tibetan Languages and Linguistics, and until recently was Editor of the journal
Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area. He recently published Handbook of Proto-Tibeto-Burman (800 pp., U.C.Press, 2003), the most ambitious attempt so far to summarize what is known about the history of this vast and understudied language family.
Cost: Free and open to the public.