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Mark Newbrook @ Showroom Mon 19th March @7:30pm


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Fringe Historical Linguistics


(Non-Standard Theories Of The History Of Languages)


"There are many non-standard ideas – most of them ‘hyper-diffusionist’ and many of them sensationalistic – about the origins, relationships and histories of languages, especially ancient languages. These ideas are rejected by those professional linguists who are aware of them but often attract support among fringe historians and indeed among the general public.


This talk will provide a brief critical overview of these non-standard claims and theories, in my capacity as a professional linguist associated with the world-wide skeptical movement. Theories of two broad types are discussed here: claims and theories about ancestor languages, historical relationships between languages (involving alleged common origin and/or contact), the etymologies of specific words (including onomastics), ‘out-of-place’(spoken) languages, etc.; and claims and theories involving the identification and decipherment of texts or alleged texts in unfamiliar scripts or familiar scripts used in unfamiliar contexts, said to represent familiar or unfamiliar languages – including claims about‘out-of-place’ written languages.


Mark Newbrook was born and brought up on the Wirral, and obtained a BA (Hons) in Classics from Oxford and an MA and a PhD in Linguistics from Reading; he then spent many years as a linguistics lecturer and researcher in Singapore, Hong Kong and Australia. His main areas of interest include historical linguistics, dialectology, sociolinguistics, semantics and skeptical linguistics."



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