An analysis of the distributions of linguistic distances
Standard measures of language relatedness such as the proportion of cognates or lexical distance that are commonly used are averaged over the pairs in word lists. Underlying these are distributions of data that have characteristics that convey information about the language pairs. A simple model of the distribution of lexical distance (D) based on a mixture of the beta distribution and discrete probabilities has been devised. Expressions based on this model are given for the expected value and variance of D that agree well with the values obtained from 1225 pairs of Indo-European languages.
Key words: distribution; lexical distance; mean; variance
Commented translation of 魏志倭人伝 “Notes about Wa people from the chronicle of Wei”
魏志倭人伝 “Notes about Wa people from the chronicle of Wei” is the main source about cultures existed upon Japanese archipelago in second half of Yayoi epoch (1 – 3 centuries AD). Despite the text is very important source for studies of Yayoi cultures, it has never been translated into English proper way, i.e.: until now there were no English translations of “Notes about Wa people” where each sentence of original classical Chinese text would be accompanied by corresponding English translation and required commentaries. Also all academic interpretations of “Notes about Wa people” have been made from the point of view of Japanese state historical mythology; such approach hardly can be productive since there were no Japanese in the epoch of Yayoi yet. In current paper a precise and impartial translation of 魏志倭人伝 is represented; all personal names and place names directly related to Wa people are given in reconstructed forms (i.e.: in forms of Early Medieval Chinese).
Key words: Yamatai, queen Himiko, Wa people, Wajin den, Woren chuan
Krasheninnikov’s and Dybowski’s materials as sources on grammar of Kamchatka – Northern Kuril Ainu dialect
Krasheninnikov’s and Dybowski’s recording on Kamchatka – Northern Kuril Ainu dialect are actually word lists. However, since they contain not just lexis, but also phrases it is possible to reconstruct grammar of the idiom. Krasheninnikov’s and Dybowski’s recordings represent different stages of the same dialect, but not different as it probably can be supposed. Grammar of the dialect actually doesn’t differ much from that of other Ainu dialects, but it has some local features: negation is expressed by preposition of eyn while other Ainu dialects use somo as negative preposition; also there seem to be two desiderative forms while other Ainu dialects have one desiderative form only.
Key words: Kamchatka Ainu; Ainu language; Ainu language history
Ethnic identity of Setos in the light of constructivism and positivism
Alexander Akulov; Fedor Alekseev
Seto people are an indigenous ethnic and linguistic minority in South-Eastern Estonia and North-Western Russia. Seto language belongs to Finnic group of Uralic family. There are about 15 thousands of Setos around the world: 214 of them live in Pechorsky District of Pskov region (Russia) and the rest live in Põlva and Võro counties (Estonia). Also there is unverified information about some Setos in Siberia. In Pskov Region Setos are officially recognized as a protected minority. In Estonia Seto idiom is considered as a variant of Võro idiom: this case is a notable illustration of extreme positivism approach to ethnic identity. Such approach hardly can be considered as productive since proximity of idioms can’t be obstacle for recognition of an ethnic group as separated; also due attention should be paid to narratives about self-identification, i.e.: ideas of both approaches (positivism and constructivism) should be taken into account.
Key words: Seto people; ethnic identity; language revitalization
Virtualization as a mean of endangered languages revitalization
Alexander Akulov; Tresi Nonno
Normal existence of any language is possible only if language can change itself freely and naturally, but isn’t restricted by an artificially created traditional culture. As far as normal development of indigenous languages (endangered languages are mostly languages of indigenous people) in real life meets many obstacles we suppose that virtualization can be helpful. Virtualization means that main platform of language use is web and virtual worlds; virtualization can provide good field for language use and also can restrict negative influence of New Age and ‘frowning elders’ (i.e.: those indigenous people who are against any invention of new items and any changes). Virtualization also suggests serious revision of such concepts as ethnic identity and native tongue: ethnic identity should be determined not by genetics/physical anthropology, but by language; the concept of native tongue should be thrown out and attention should be paid to actual communicative ability only.
Key words: endangered languages; language revitalization; virtualization