You are on page 1of 16


Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

Languages and societies: the ``punctuated equilibrium'' model of language development
Tania Kuteva*
Institut fuÈr Afrikanistik, UniversitaÈt zu Ko Meister-Ekkehart-Str. 7, 50 923 Ko Germany Èln, Èln, Keywords: Equilibrium; Punctuation; Language development; Language contact

1. Introduction In a recent book, Dixon (Dixon, R.M.W. 1997. The Rise and Fall of Languages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge) uses the terms equilibrium and punctuation from evolutionary biology for the articulation of a global model of language development. The goal of the present paper is twofold: (i) on the basis of non-conjectural, concrete cases, to establish the linguistic situations that are characteristic of the socio-historical states of equilibrium and punctuation; and (ii) to show that neither equilibrium nor punctuation can be uniquely de®ned by a particular (cluster of) linguistic situation(s) speci®c to one but not to the other of these socio-historical states. We conclude that in order to use the notions of equilibrium and punctuation as adequate descriptive tools for language development, we should ®rst showÐon a quantitative empirical basisÐthat each of these socio-historical states correlates with a particular linguistic situation more readily than with the others. It is then, we contend, that the ``punctuated equilibrium'' model of language evolution (Dixon, 1997) will gain credibility as a plausible hypothesis. It has become by now common practice to make parallels between the study of biological evolution and the study of language development. One of these parallels involves the notions of equilibrium and punctuation. In 1972 Eldredge and Gould (1972) proposed a punctuated equilibrium model in biology and since then there have been several ways in which the terms punctuation and equilibrium have been used in linguistics. Lightfoot (1991), for instance, applied the notions equilibrium and punctuation to language change through the language acquisition process. According to Lightfoot, children are exposed to linguistic expressions, which function as the `triggering experience', and by the age of pubertyÐthrough the mediation of principles of UGÐthey acquire the basic aspects of the grammar of the particular language they have been exposed to. The two important notions in Lightfoot's understanding of
*Tel.:+49-221-470-4803; fax:+49-221-470-5158; e-mail: 0271-5309/99/$ - see front matter # 1999 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved. PII: S027 1-5309(98)0002 4-X


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

language change are ®rst, equilibrium, i.e. the gradual accumulation of less important changes, and then, punctuation, i.e. catastrophic reanalyses of the grammar, where parameter setting plays a crucial role: `The picture of language change that emerges is one of ``punctuated equilibrium''. Languages are constantly changing gradually and in piecemeal fashion, but meanwhile grammars remain in equilibrium, unchanged in their structural properties. From time to time, however, they undergo more radical, catastrophic restructuring, corresponding to new parameter settingsF F F What is interesting about linguistic change of this type is that it requires a particular kind of explanatory model: one couched in claims about the genetically determined makeup of part of our cognitive capacity and about the way language acquisition proceeds' (Lightfoot, 1991, p. 173). The notions of equilibrium and punctuation have been further used with regard to linguistic development through either internally or externally motivated change. The vertical development of a language (i.e. in the time dimension), involving gradual, internally motivated language change, has been compared to what in biology is understood as equilibrium. On the other hand, the horizontal language development (i.e. in the space dimension) involving rapid spatial variation due to contacts with other languages, has been taken to correspond to biological punctuation (Dimmendaal, 1995, p. 362; see also Watkins, 1998). Most recently, in a very thought-provoking book, Dixon (1997) uses the terms equilibrium and punctuation for the articulation of a global model of language development. The time-depth that Dixon's book addresses is much greater than the time-depth about which we have evidence sucient to reconstruct proto-languages. Thus the question Dixon asks is: `What happened between 100,000 years agoÐor whenever language developedÐand the proto-languages of modern families, 6000 or 10,000 years ago?' (Dixon, 1997, p. 2). Dixon uses the term equilibrium to designate most of human history: `In a given geographical area there would have been a number of political groups of similar size and organization, with no one group having undue prestige over the others. Each would have spoken its own language or dialect. They would have constituted a long-term linguistic area, with the languages existing in a state of relative equilibriumF F F I suggest that, during a period of equilibrium, linguistic features tend to di€use across the languages of a given area so thatÐover a very long periodÐthey converge on a common prototype' (Dixon, 1997, pp. 3±4). By punctuation, Dixon means a period of drastic change resulting from causes such as drought, ¯ooding, invention of a new tool or weapon, the development of agriculture, movement into new territories, the development of secular or religious imperialism. During a punctuation period, peoples and their languages expand and split. Many new languages develop out of a common proto-language. In other words, Dixon (1997) hypothesizes that language evolution can be modelled as a punctuated equilibrium, where an equilibrium state involves convergence of contacting languages, and a punctuation state expansion and split into diverging dialects/languages. It is Dixon's (1997) treatment of equilibrium and punctuation that we will address in the present paper. Unlike Dixon, and following Heine and Kuteva (1998), we will be keeping separate the socio-historical from the linguistic factors relevant to the

T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228


present discussion. More precisely, we will be speaking of socio-historical equilibrium, and socio-historical punctuation but not of linguistic equilibrium and/or linguistic punctuation. Besides, we di€er from Dixon (1997) in the following: all the cases we will be dealing with will involve a time-depth no greater than 3 millennia. Thus, the time-depth of the cases to be examined here will be characterized by documented social history or by the formulation of plausible hypotheses regarding the social history of peoples. On the other hand, these will be cases which allow for describing the linguistic behaviour of the language speakers examined, andÐin some casesÐ for the reconstruction of proto-languages. Our goal in the present paper is twofold: (i) on the basis of non-conjectural, concrete cases, to establish the linguistic situations that are characteristic of the socio-historical states of punctuation and equilibrium; and (ii) to show that neither punctuation, nor equilibrium can be uniquely de®ned by a particular (cluster of) linguistic situation(s) speci®c to one but not to the other of these socio-historical states. The paper will be organized as follows. The socio-historical states of equilibrium and punctuation will be de®ned in Section 2. Section 3 will discuss the way each of these socio-historical states correlates with distinct linguistic situations. It will be shown that (a) equilibrium as well as punctuation can be characterized by more than one linguistic situation, and (b) the linguistic situations to be observed in an equilibrium and a punctuation period are largely the same. A particularly complex case of correlation between a socio-historical state of a single people (the Fulbe) and three distinct linguistic situations will be looked at in Section 4. Conclusions concerning the adequacy of the notions of equilibrium and punctuation for a descriptive model of language evolution will be given in Section 5. 2. The socio-historical states of equilibrium and punctuation Dixon (1997) discusses the notions of equilibrium and punctuation at length. For him, they relate to socio-historical (extra-linguistic) criteria on the one hand, and to de®nitional linguistic criteria on the other. Heine and Kuteva (1998) propose to keep the socio-historical criteria apart from the linguistic ones when speaking of equilibrium and punctuation (see Section 1). Here we will base our working de®nitions of equilibrium and punctuation on the extra-linguistic part of Dixon's description of these notions (cf. Dixon, 1997, pp. 67±96 for elaborate discussion), and will be talking about socio-historical equilibrium and socio-historical punctuation only. Following Heine and Kuteva (1998), by socio-historical equilibrium we will mean a contact situation where: (a) (b) There are a number of political groups, of similar size and organization. There is no extended period of unilateral prestige of one political group over the others.

On the other hand, socio-historical punctuation will be understood as a situation where:


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

(a) (b)

There are drastic changes, which may be due to natural causes, or to new technological inventions or economic activities, or to population movements into new territories, or to secular or religious imperialism. Peoples expand and split.

It is important to bear in mind that there is no clear demarcation line between an equilibrium and a punctuation situation. In what follows we will demonstrate that the same socio-historical situation may be regarded as either equilibrium or punctuation depending on the generality of the level of analysis. For this purpose we will consider the case of the Nile Valley contact situation between the Nobiin people on the one hand, and the Dongolawi/Kenzi people on the other. Bechhaus-Gerst (1996) describes the social history of the Nobiin and Dongolawi/Kenzi-speaking people in terms of at least two waves of migration of Proto-Nubian-speaking people whose homeland has to be located outside the Nile Valley, presumably in the region of Kordofan/Darfur (see the Map in Fig. 3). The ®rst migration involved the Nobiinspeaking groups who reached the Nile Valley between 1500 and 1200 BC; the second migration the Dongolawi/Kenzi-speaking groups who came to the Nile Valley in the ®rst centuries AD. The separation of the Nobiin-speaking and the Dongolawi/ Kenzi-speaking people was so long that present-day descendents of both groups of people do not share a common Nubian identity. The Nobiin claim to be the only genuine Nubians of African origin, whereas the Dongolawi/Kenzi believe to have descended from immigrants from the Arabic peninsula. The reason why the social history of the Nobiin and the Dongolawi/Kenzi is relevant to the notion of equilibrium is the contact situation in which these two peoples have been living ever since the Dongolawi/Kenzi reached the Nile Valley (i.e. in the ®rst centuries AD) and settled down in the same area where the Nobiin had already lived for over 1000 years. In the fourth century AD the Nobiin became politically dominant and from the ®fth century onwards the Nobiin seem to have been the strongest political group in the Northern Sudanese Nile Valley. By the middle of the sixth century Nubia was divided into two kingdoms, Nobatia and Makuria. The former was dominated by the Nobiin, the latter by the Dongolawi/Kenzi. According to Bechhaus-Gerst (1996, p. 304), however, `A critical examination of the sources reveals that from the beginning on, there existed only one Nubian kingdom with its capital at Dongola which was under political control of the Nobiin'. The situation then changed radically in the 13th century when there was political and dynastic turmoil as a result of which Nubia fell apart. At this point a new Dongolawi-speaking group came into power. How is this situation to be classi®ed? On a micro-level analysis, it can be regarded as a case of punctuation because at any one period of time, there was political dominance of one group over the other. On a macro-level analysis, however, this can be seen as a case of socio-historical equilibrium because on the whole, the political dominance involved in this contact situation was one of changing direction (i.e. it was bidirectional); besides, we observe no expansion-and-split of the politically dominant people. Co-existenceÐover a long period of timeÐof sociopolitical groups is what characterizes this contact situation instead. The analysis of

T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228


socio-historical states to be carried out in the present paper will be a macro-level one. 3. Linguistic situations in states of equilibrium and punctuation 3.1 Linguistic situations in a socio-historical equilibrium period In the present and in the following subsections, we will show that the sociohistorical states of equilibrium and punctuation correlate with more than one distinct linguistic situation each. Moreover, we will argue that it is largely the same types of linguistic situation that can be observed in an equilibrium and in a punctuation period. We will ®rst turn to the linguistic characterization of an equilibrium period. 3.1.1 Convergence with contact languages Sprachbund. The socio-political setting of the Indian village Kupwar described in Gumperz and Wilson (1971) presents a case of equilibrium. In 1971 the population of the village was 3000 and comprised mainly Kannada-speaking Jains as well as Kannada-speaking LingayatsÐlargely craftsmen, Marathi-speaking untouchables and other landless laborers, Urdu-speaking Moslems. The Kannadaspeaking Jains and the Marathi-speaking service castes have lived together in the region for over six centuries. As for the Urdu-speaking Moslems, they came to the region three or four centuries ago. The linguistic situation observed in the Kupwar village can be described in the following way. The languages of the three largest groups in the village, namely Kannada (belonging to the Dravidian family) and Marathi and Urdu (belonging to distant branches of Indo-Aryan within the IndoEuropean family) have converged structurally to a considerable extent, to the e€ect that they have formed a Sprachbund. The examples in (1)±(3) demonstrate the remarkable intertranslatability from one local utterance to the other: (1) Kupwar Urdu (Gumperz and Wilson, 1971, p. 154) pala j ra kat ke le ke a ù ya greens a.little having cut having taken /I/ came `I cut some greens and brought them.' Kupwar Marathi (Gumperz and Wilson, 1971, p. 154) pala j ra kap un ghe un a 1 o greens a.little having cut having taken /I/ came `I cut some greens and brought them.' Kupwar Kannada (Gumperz and Wilson, 1971, p. 154) tapla j ra khod i t gondi b ù yn greens a.little having cut having taken /I/ came `I cut some greens and brought them.' e e e e e



All three sentences have identical grammatical categories and identical constituent structures, and it is possible to translate one sentence into the other by simple morph for morph substitution. `So great is the similarity among Ku[pwar] grammatical


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

structures that we were able to analyse an extensive corpus of bilingual texts involving all three local varieties without having to postulate syntactic categories or rules for one language which were not present in the other language' (Gumperz and Wilson, 1971, p. 155). Gumperz and Wilson discuss the following morphosyntactic features: Ð gender categories Ð the exclusive/inclusive `we' distinction Ð subject-verb agreement rules in four di€erent constructions Ð a head noun-modi®er agreement rule Ð two word order features Ð an equational construction Ð three features involving case functions Ð yes/no question marking Ð use of demonstrative and possessive forms in attributive and predicative constructions Ð the form(s) of past tense non-®nite verb forms in two constructions Ð the borrowing of a grammatical morpheme, namely the Indic subordinator ki. Kupwar Kannada has changed towards Marathi, and usually toward Urdu, too, in ®ve or six of these features; Kupwar Urdu has changed toward Kannada and/or Marathi in 12 features. The authors conclude that what has happened in Kupwar is ``a gradual adaptation of grammatical di€erences to the point that only morphophonemic di€erences (di€erences of lexical shape) remain'' (Gumperz and Wilson, 1971, p. 155). Note, however, that in spite of the clearly convergent changes that can be observed in the Kupwar linguistic situation, the languages that are in contact there remain distinct and `as long as ethnic separateness of home life is valued,F F F and language remains associated with ethnic separateness, there is little reason to expect multilingualism to disappear' (Gumperz & Wilson, 1971, p. 154). ``Hybrid'' languages. A socio-historical equilibrium may also result in the development of a so-called mixed or `hybrid' language. This is what appears to have happened in the Nile Nubian case discussed in Section 2. As pointed out already, on a macro-level analysis, the contact between the Nobiin-speaking people and the Dongolawi/Kenzi-speaking people since the ®rst centuries AD can be classi®ed as a socio-historical equilibrium. The linguistic situation to be observed in the region today involves two languages, modern Nobiin and modern Dongolawi/Kenzi, which are very close to each other. The existence of well documented history of the Nobiin language allows us to establish that Nobiin has changed relatively little whereas Dongolawi/Kenzi has changed to a considerable degree over the last several centuries. The genetic status of the Dongolawi/Kenzi is of a particular interest for the present discussion. Three possibilities can be considered here: Dongolawi/Kenzi as (i) a dialect of Nobiin, as (ii) a sister-language of Nobiin within the Nubian family, as (iii) a `hybrid' language between Old Nobiin and pre-contact Dongolawi/Kenzi. In what follows, a closer look will be taken at each of these possibilities. Present-day Dongolawi/Kenzi as a dialect of Nobiin. Even though Dongolawi/ Kenzi is very similar in more than one respect to Nobiin, there exist a number of

T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228


arguments against the treatment of Nobiin and Dongolawi/Kenzi as dialects (Bechhaus-Gerst, 1996, p. 298). Firstly, Nobiin and Dongolawi/Kenzi are not mutually intelligible. The medium of inter-ethnic communication is Arabic. Secondly, speakers of both languages do not share a common Nubian identity. `The Nubian call the „ „„ language of the Dongolawi/Kenzi o kiriin ba id ``language of the slaves'', a name „ already documented in the Middle AgesF F F, or bideriin ba id ``language of the poor''' (Bechhaus-Gerst, 1996, p. 298). Nobiin and Dongolawi/Kenzi as sister-languages of a common Nubian parent. Research of the last decadeÐboth linguistic and archaeologicalÐpoints to a separation of Old Nobiin and pre-contact Dongolawi/Kenzi from their common parent, Proto-Nubian, going back to 3000 years ago, and then a subsequent period of staying separated for a whole millenium. Comparative study of modern Nobiin and Dongolawi/Kerizi, however, yields amazing structural similarities between the two languages in both nominal and verbal morphology. These similarities render `the modern languagesÐsimply too similar' (Bechhaus-Gerst, 1996, p. 299; emphasis in the original) for them to be regarded as sister-languages with a separation period of no less than one millennium. Present-day Dongolawi/Kenzi as a `hybrid' language. Following BechhausGerst (1996), we accept that Dongolawi/Kenzi is a `hybrid' language. We are dealing here with language maintenance with massive interference in the domain of morphology. In fact, it is impossible to show that the bulk of the lexicon and grammatical structures of Dongolawi/Kenzi come from the same source. Thus Dongolawi/Kenzi has maintained, and further developed, the vocabulary it inherited from Proto-Nubian, even though loanwords and loan translations from Nobiin into Dongolawi/Kenzi can be found. A comparison of the morphology of Nobiin and Dongolawi/Kenzi, however, reveals a heavy in¯uence of Nobiin on Dongolawi/Kenzi and a relatively slight impact of Dongolawi/Kenzi on Nobiin. Bechhaus-Gerst (1996, pp. 301±307) ®nds the following structural features of Nobiin±Nubian origin in Dongolawi/Kenzi: postpositions bokon `until', takki `when'; the singular of personal pronouns; plural sux -gu with pronouns; demonstrative pronouns; interrogative pronouns; plural sux -ri (with loanwords; very restricted); the suxes of the present; the suxes of preterit I subjunctive; the sux -ke(n) marking the habitual (restricted to Kenzi); verbal suxes for the resultative/perfective; verbal suxes for the stative; verbal suxes for the durative; verbal pre®xes for the durative/habitual; verbal pre®xes for the intentional/ingressive (future); the plural object suxes with the verb `give'; the phonological system. On the other hand, the in¯uence of Dongolawi/Kenzi on Nobiin was rather restricted. In Nobiin the following features of Dongolawi/Kenzi origin are found: sux for ordinary numerals; plural sux -ii (with pronouns); a second set of personal pronouns based on the plural pronouns of Dongolawi/Kenzi; sux -ndi>-ni (with possessive pronouns); plural suxes-ii, -nci with loanwords (very restricted use). The point that we want to make is that the extent of the contact-induced morphological change is so large for Dongolawi/Kenzi that modern Dongolawi/Kenzi


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

can no longer be regarded as a descendent of a single parent, i.e. of pre-contact Dongolawi/Kenzi, which in turn, descended from Proto-Nubian. Rather, modern Dongolawi/Kenzi has two parents: pre-contact Dongolawi/Kenzi (from which it inherited the bulk of its vocabulary) and Nobiin (from which it received the bulk of its morphology), a type of language which has come to be treated as a mixed or `hybrid' language in the literature (cf. Thomason and Kaufman, 1988). To sum up, the socio-historical equilibrium of the Nubian Nile Valley contact situation since the ®rst centuries AD has brought about the appearance of the `hybrid' language of what is present-day Dongolawi/Kenzi. 3.1.2 Co-existence with contact languages The socio-historical setting of Switzerland can be characterized as one of equilibrium, with a relative balance in terms of political dominance between the Germanspeaking, French-speaking, and Italian-speaking populations. Linguistically, this socio-historical equilibrium state is characterized by a co-existence of the three major contacting languages German, French, and Italian.1 Even though there exists a multidirectional borrowing between the three languages, which has brought about the rise of three local varieties, Swiss German, Swiss French, and Swiss Italian, these local varieties co-exist on the territory of Switzerland, with neither of them having assimilated any other variety. 3.1.3 Expansion-and-split of dialects/languages The Kalahari desert basin is the homeland of the Khoisan-speaking Bushmen (or San). The Khoisan languages fall into three groups: North Khoisan, Central Khoisan and South Khoisan. While the genetic validity of the North-Khoisan and the South-Khoisan is questioned by a number of linguists, the existence of the Central Khoisan branch is generally accepted. Central Khoisan has two major sub-branches: Khoekhoe and Non-Khoekhoe. Khoekhoe consists of Khoekhoe (Nama-Damara), Xiri (extinct), !Ora and a couple of other extinct languages. Non-Khoekhoe consists of 16 languages. It is the Non-Khoekhoe languages and their speakers that we will focus on here. As Heine and Kuteva (1998, p. 12) point out, all evidence available suggests that the social history of the peoples of this branch present a case of equilibrium: (i) the Non-Khoekhoe-speaking peoples can be assumed to have formed small groups having had a similar socio-economic organization and economy; and (ii) they were hunters and gatherers without any pronounced form of political leadership. The homeland of Central Khoisan speakers is a less accessible region where people have existed over extended periods of time (for centuries and probably millennia) without any major interference from outside until the advent of Bantu-speaking and European immigrants during the last centuries.
There are also speakers of Rhaeto-Romance in Switzerland; they are a very small percentage of the Á overall population, however (for a detailed analysis of Rhaeto-Romance see Haiman and Beninca, 1991).

T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228


Linguistic observationsÐand the application of the comparative methodÐsuggest that the Central Khoisan socio-historical equilibrium correlates with the expansion-andsplit of Proto-West Khoe and Proto-East-Khoe. Thus Vossen (1997) shows that the divergence processes among the Non-Khoekhoe languages were much more pronounced than convergence ones. On the basis of regular correspondences to the hypothetically set-up proto-language, Proto-Non-Khoekhoe, Vossen (1997, p. 386) establishes the family tree diagram given in Fig. 1 for the Non-Khoekhoe languages. In sum, a socio-historical equilibrium state may also lead to an expansion-andsplit of languages, a linguistic situation which can be adequately described in terms of the traditional ``family tree'' model. 3.1.4 Language assimilation The contact situation in West Africa involving Ewe-speakers and Twi-speakers on the one hand, and speakers of the Togo Remnant languages Basila, Balemi, Logba, Adele, Likpe, Santroko®, Akpafu-Lolobi, Avatime, Nyangbo-Ta®, Bowili, Ahlo, Kposo, Kebu, Animere, and Boro on the other, presents a case of socio-historical equilibrium. The narratives of the Togo Remnant clans indicate that these clans are the autochthonous population of the region. In the foot of the mountain ranges there were excellent conditions for the cultivation of yam and rice (Heine, 1968, p. 290). The Togo Remnant clans have been in a close cultural contact with their southern neighbours for several centuries. The linguistic situation characterizing this socio-historical equilibrium is twofold. For the ®rst 14 of the above mentioned 15 Togo Remnant languages, it is co-existence of the contacting languages: even though the 14 Togo Remnant languages have borrowed a lot from Ewe and Twi, which are

Fig. 1. Proto-West-Khoe and Proto-East-Khoe (based on Vossen, 1997, p. 386).


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

the lingua francas in the region, the former have not been assimilated to the latter (cf. Section 3.2.2. above regarding this type of linguistic situation). It is the 15th Togo Remnant language, Boro, that is of immediate interest for the present discussion. Boro has stopped existing as a distinct language. Its speakers have shifted to Twi. As a result of this, Boro was a dying language in 1898 when A. Seidel (referring to the data collected by R. Plehn) wrote in his BeitraÈge zur Kenntnis der Sprachen in Togo: `Plehn erzahlt ... dass er in der Gegend von Worawora und Tapa Reste einer È Sprache habe aufnehmen konnen, die noch vor wenigen Menschenaltern dort È gesprochen wurde, aber jetzt vom Tswi ganzlich verdrangt worden sei. Ein alter È È Mann, in dessen Jugend tiese Sprache, das Boro, noch von vielen verstanden worden sei, habe sich noch einer Anzahl Worter erinnern konnen. Die Sprachproben sind: È È Â kelo, Mann, Mond  vrue, Gott vrua, Wind   tata, Vater (Seidel, 1898, p. 286).  esi, Frau  kelo, Hand lizõÂn, Haus "  boso, Wasser " —sakasu, Ziege  "  ovo, Schaf "  " —tamisu, Huhn " — —yin" , Brennholz.'

All this goes to show that a language may well come to be assimilated to a contact language in a socio-historical equilibrium contact situation. 3.2 Linguistic situations in a socio-historical punctuation period In this section we will show that all four linguistic situations characteristic of a sociohistorical equilibrium periodÐconvergence with contact languages; coexistence with contact languages; expansion-and-split into diverging dialects/languages; language assimilationÐcan also be correlated with a socio-historical punctuation period. 3.2.1 Convergence with contact languages The rise of the Turkish Empire in the Middle Ages and the conquering of Bulgarians, Serbo/Croats, Albanians, Greeks, and Romanians by the Turks is a clear case of socio-historical punctuation. For about 500 years, the non-Turkish population within the Turkish Empire was politically, religiously, and culturally subjected to the Turkish invaders. The linguistic situation characteristic of this area was an extensive multilingualism and, ultimately, a structural convergence of all contacting languages, which has come to be known in the literature as the Balkan Sprachbund. It must be pointed out that the Balkan Sprachbund languages belong to two language families, Indo-European (with Indo-European languages belonging to distant branches of the family) and Altaic as follows: Turkish Bulgarian Serbo/Croat Albanian Greek Romanian Ð Ð Ð Ð Ð Ð Turkic, Altaic Slavic, Indo-European Slavic, Indo-European Albanian, Indo-European Greek, Indo-European Romance, Indo-European.

T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228


Joseph (1992, p. 154) summarizes the following list of the most signi®cant Balkanisms in addition to the shared or calqued vocabulary: stressed mid-to-high central vowel; vowel inventory of i, e, a, o, u without phonological contrasts of quantity, openness, or nasalazation; merger of Genitive and Dative cases; future tense based on reduced form of `want' verb; clitic postposed de®nite article; Evidential, Admirative or Dubitative verb forms; in®nitive loss; analytic adjectival comparative; object doubling. Note that here we are dealing with extensive multilateral borrowing where neither of the contacting languages has been assimilated by the politically prestigeous language, Turkish. Even though converging, all contacting languages continue to exist as distinct languages. 3.2.2 Co-existence with contact languages The colonization of India by the British until the middle of the present century is an example of a socio-historical punctuation. The invaded territory in this case did have well-developed political groups as well as a highly developed religion. The languages spoken in this territory have millions of speakers, and the linguistic situation which has arisen in this particular case of socio-historical punctuation is co-existence of the conqueror's language, Indian English (which has become a lingua franca) and the indigenous languages (which have not declined in use). 3.2.3 Expansion-and-split into dialects/diverging languages A classic example of a socio-historical punctuation is the expansion of the Austronesian people from Taiwan (their supposed proto-homeland) which started 2000 years BC (Dixon, 1997, pp. 86±87). This was an expansion south-west to the Philippines, Borneo and Indonesia, and south-east to New Guinea. The spread of the Austronesians to the Bismarck Archipelago (after 1500 BC) and then over the whole Paci®c, and ®nally to New Zealand (800±1000 AD) was, arguably, motivated by the acquisition of agriculture, and was facilitated by the development of good sailing craft, both of which enabled them to set out and explore new lands. Once the Austronesian people arrived in a particular territory they did not, as a rule, make trips back to where they came from. The above socio-historical punctuation resulted in the largest expansion-and-split of languages known to us. Thus the Austronesian language family is the biggest one in the world, with four ®rst-order subgroupsÐ Atayalic, Tsouic, Paiwanic, and Malayo-Polynesian (Ruhlen, 1987)Ðand about one thousand distinct languages. This is also a classic example of the appropriateness of the family tree model for linguistic description (Dixon, 1997, p. 87). 3.2.4 Language assimilation The introduction of agriculture into Lowland South America appears to have created a socio-historical punctuation. Before the acquisition of agriculture, the Amazonian forests were most likely inhabited by hunters and gatherers speaking a variety of languages belonging to di€erent language families. Dixon (1997, p. 84) assumes that `[A]griculture was probably developed in one place by one tribe and may then have di€used into some neighbouring tribes. This punctuation set o€ a series of population expansions'. The linguistic situation that this punctuation


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

brought about has two aspects. On the one hand, the languages of the agricultural people, Arawak, Carib and TupõÂ, expanded and split. On the other hand, the languages of the hunter-gatherer groups got assimilated. The above case is one of many examples where the language of the politically/culturally/materially inferior group gets assimilated by the language of the superior one, in a socio-historical punctuation period. There exist cases, however, where it is the language of the politically/culturally/ materially superior group that falls into disuse and gets assimilated. The socio-historical punctuation set o€ by the Normans' invasion of England in 1066 may serve as an example of this. The French-speaking Normans, with Breton and Flemish allies, were the politically as well as culturally dominant group, and the English-speaking population the subjected group. Thomason and Kaufman (1988, pp. 267±269) describe the French-English contact situation in England from 1066 until 1400 as one of gradual assimilation of the conquerors and their language. The Normans displaced the English higher nobility. England's political and religious superstructure was gradually modi®ed by the new overlords of the country. Both French and English began to be used in court proceedings. Until about 1200, the higher nobility divided their time roughly equally between England and Normandy. The aristocracy began to speak mainly English and to forget how to speak French. By 1250 a lot of literature was written in (Middle) English. Many French words were borrowed into (Middle) English, which suggests that the Norman nobility was intensely learning English at the time. By the early 1300s very few nobles spoke French well; the maintenance of French served primarily as a class marker. From 1100 to at least 1500 the French were culturally 50±100 years in advance of other Europeans, so maintenance of French was also a marker of `culture'. By 1360 both French and English were languages ocially accepted as usable in parliament law courts and legal documents. After that date French was little used and by 1400 there were no Medieval French loans into English. In other words, French was both the politically dominant and culturally prestigeous language. Nevertheless, it got assimilated to English (even though it provided a signi®cant superstratum within Modern English). The reason for this is that `French speakers did not settle in large numbers anywhere in England, though they did settle in modest numbers in certain commercial centres in the SouthÐFrench speakers never made up more than a small fraction of the populationÐthey could be numbered in the thousands (perhaps 20,000). England at this time had a population of from 1.5 to 2 million' (Thomason and Kaufman, 1988, pp. 267±268; emphasis in the original). In sum, a socio-historical punctuation may bring about assimilation of a `conquered' language to a `conqueror' language, and vice versa. 4. One-to-many mapping between a socio-historical state and linguistic situations: further evidence So far, we have shown that there exists no one-to-one correspondence between the socio-historical state of equilibrium or punctuation on the one hand, and a particular

T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228


linguistic situation on the other. That is, we showed that an equilibrium period as well as a punctuation period can be characterized by more than one linguistic situation. In order to do this, in the above discussion we used examples involving di€erent ethnic groups/peoples every time we established a correlation between a socio-historical state and a particular linguistic situation. In this section, we will present evidence which makes it even clearer that there exists a one-to-many rather than one-to-one mapping between a socio-historical state (equilibrium or punctuation) and linguistic situations. More precisely, we will demonstrate that even in cases involving a single ethnic group/people it is possible to observe a correlation between a particular socio-historical state and a variety of linguistic situations. The people to be discussed in this section are referred to as Pulaar or Fulbe. The Pulaar/Fulbe trace their roots to the most distant reaches of Western Africa in prehistoric settlements in Senegal. Back in the 7th±10th century AD their forefathers set out in an extended migration eastward in Futa Toro, and from there in Futa Djallon, and in Maasina (15th century). From Maasina they moved to the Niger Bend and Northern Nigeria. This migrationÐmotivated mainly by cattle nomadismÐ took them as far as the interior of present-day Sudan. The estimated number of all Pulaar/Fulbe nowadays is 12±15 million. There are a number of names used to designate the people as well as the language they speak (Noss, 1991). In the west toward the Atlantic coast, the people are called Pulaar or Halpulaar; in the eastern areas of settlement, including Nigeria, they call themselves Fulbe, the plural of the singular noun Pullo. On the other hand, the language that the Pulaar/Fulbe speak is called Pulaar (in the Senegal area), Pulle (in Guinea), Fulfulde (east of Mali), and Fulbere (in Sudan). Here we will employ the names most widely used in the literature, namely Fulbe for the people, and Fulfulde for their language. The ethnological and historical data that the abundant literature on Fulbe contains indicatesÐunambiguouslyÐa punctuation socio-historical state. This socio-historical state, however, correlates not with one but with at least three linguistic situations each of which, following Lupke (1998), we will outline below. È 4.1 Language assimilation Amselle (1990) describes how in the 15th century the Fulbe who had settled down in Maasina migrated southwards to the periphery of the big kingdom of Wassoulou. There they took over the political leadership in the little chieftainries. They were very proud of their pedigree and never gave up their ethnical identity; nevertheless, they got assimilated linguistically by the local language groups. 4.2 Expansion-and-split into dialects Following Dupire (1981), Lupke (1998) analyzes the social history of the theocratic È kingdom of Futa Djallon as a case of assimilation of the autochthonous peoples by the politically dominant Fulbe. Islamized Fulbe started settling down in Futa Djallon since the 17th century. Under the leadership of Ibrahima Sanbego Sori and Karamogo Alfa Ba, they defeated the local people Djallonke and built a religious feudal


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

Fig. 2. The case of the Fulbe people and their language.

Fig. 3. Reconstructed migrations of the Nubian peoples from their presumed homeland in the Wadi Shaw/Laqiya region.

state. Having all the political, religious and cultural power, the Fulbe assimilated systematically the local people and imposed their own language upon them. The linguistic result of this situation was the development of one of the seven geographic dialects recognized by Westermann and Bryan (1970), namely the Futa Djallon dialect. 4.3 Co-existence with contact languages In spite of the divergence of Fulfulde into seven (geographic) dialects, namely the dialects of Futa Senegalais, Futa Djallon, Maasina, Northern Nigeria, Adamawa

T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228 Table 1 Equilibrium and punctuation: qualitative characterization Equilibrium Convergence (a) Sprachbund (b) ``Hybrid'' languages Co-existence Expansion-and-split Language assimilation Punctuation Convergence (a) Sprachbund (b) Ð Co-existence Expansion-and-split Language assimilation


Province, Bauchi Province, and Bagirmi, Westermann and Bryan (1970, pp. 11€) treat Fulfulde as a single language because of the mutual intelligibility among all these dialects. On the whole, the data available suggest that Fulfulde in its various dialectal forms co-exists with other languages in the geographic areas where it is spoken. In Nigeria, for instance, Fulfulde co-exists with a number of other languages, the most prominent of them being Hausa. The above discussion demonstrates a one-to-many mapping between a sociohistorical state, namely punctuation in the case of the Fulfulde people, and no less than three linguistic situations relating to that socio-historical state, cf. Fig. 2 5. Conclusion In the present paper, we have argued that, except for a single subcase (`hybrid languages') of linguistic convergence, the same linguistic situations are to be found in both socio-historical equilibrium and socio-historical punctuation. More precisely, we have shown that these two socio-historical states are qualitatively characterized (i.e. with no weighting of the particular correlations) as shown in Table 1. In other words, on the basis of a qualitative analysis, neither an equilibrium nor a punctuation state can be uniquely de®ned by a (cluster of) linguistic situation(s) which is characteristic of one but not of the other state. The following question arises: if equilibrium and punctuation have the same qualitative linguistic characterization, can we then useÐin any helpful wayÐthe notions of equilibrium and punctuation for describing language evolution? The answer we suggest is: in order for us to use the notions of equilibrium and punctuation as adequate descriptive tools for language development, we should showÐon a quantitative empirical basisÐthat each of these socio-historical states correlates with a particular linguistic situation more readily than with the others. Thus if we are able to showÐby means of sound statistical data about concrete, documented contact situations ± that equilibrium correlates strongly with convergence, and punctuation with expansion-and-split, as assumed in Dixon (1997), then the punctuated equilibrium model of language evolution will gain in credibility as a plausible hypothesis. That is, Dixon's philosophical e€orts provide a remarkable grid useful as a starting point for empirical research which can, in turn, re®ne and test it.


T. Kuteva / Language & Communication 19 (1999) 213±228

Acknowledgements The author thanks the German Research Society for the generous ®nancial support as well as Bernd Heine, John Haiman and Erhard Voeltz for invaluable comments and suggestions. References
  Amselle, J.-L., 1990. Logiques metisses. Anthropologie de l'identite en Afrique et ailleurs. Payot, Paris. Bechhaus-Gerst, M., 1996. Sprachwandel durch Sprachkontakt am Beispiel des Nubischen im Niltal: Moglichkeiten und Grenzen einer diachronen Soziolinguistik. (Language Contact in Africa, 3). È Koppe, Cologne. È Dimmendaal, G., 1995. Do some languages have a multi-genetic or non-genetic origin? An exercise in Á taxonomy. In: Nicolai, R., Rottland, F. (Eds.), Cinquieme Colloque de Linguistique Nilo-Sahariene, Nice, 24±29 aout 1992: Actes. (Nilo-Saharan, 10). Koppe, Cologne, pp. 357±372. Ã È Dixon, R.M.W., 1997. The Rise and Fall of Languages. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.     Á Dupire, M., 1981. Re¯exions sur l'ethnicite peul. Itinedrances en pays peul et ailleurs. Melanges a la  memoire de Pierre Francis Lacroix, II., Editions du CNRS-INALCO, Paris. pp. 165±181. Eldredge, N., Gould, S.J., 1972. Punctuated equilibria: an alternative to phyletic gradualism. In: Schopf, T.L.M. (Ed.), Models in Paleobiology. Freeman & Cooper, San Fransisco, pp. 82±115. Gumperz, J.J., Wilson, R., 1971. Convergence and creolization. A case from the Indo-Aryan/Dravidian Border in India. In: Hymes, D. (Ed.), Pidginization and Creolization of Languages, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 151±167. Á Haiman, J., Beninca, P., 1991. The Rhaeto-Romance Languages. Routledge, London. Heine, B., 1968. Die Verbreitung und Gliederung der Togorestsprachen. (Kolner Beitrage zur AfrikanisÈ È tik, 1), Cologne. Heine, B., Kuteva, T. 1998. Convergence and divergence in the development of African languages some general observations. Paper presented at the International Workshop: The Connection Between Areal Di€usion and the Genetic Model of Language Relationship. Canberra, August, 1998. Joseph, B.D., 1992. The Balkan languages. In: Bright, W. (Ed.), International Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford University Press, Oxford, Vol. 1. pp. 153±155. Lightfoot, D., 1991. How to Set Parameters: Arguments from Language Change. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass. Lupke, F., 1998. Wann ist ein Peul ein PeulÐvon der Unabhangigkeit zwischen ethnischer Zugehorigkeit, È È È sprachlichem Verhalten und politischer/sozialer Domination. Paper presented at Bernd Heine's/ Erhard Voeltz's seminar Some Problems of African Linguistics. Noss, P.A., 1991. Tense and aspect in Fulfulde. In: Essien, O. (Ed.), The Tense Systems of Nigerian Languages and English AAP 27, Cologne, pp. 43±64. Ruhlen, M., 1987. A Guide to the World's Languages, Vol. 1. Classi®cation. Edward Arnold, London. Seidel, A., 1898. Beitrage zur Kenntnis der Sprachen in Togo. In: Zeitschrift fur afrikanische und oceaÈ È nische Sprachen. Geographische Verlagshandlung Dietrich Reimer, Berlin, pp. 201±286. Thomason, S.G., Kaufman, T., 1988. Language Contact, Creolization, and Genetic Linguistics. University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles. Vossen, R., 1997. Die Khoe-Sprachen: Ein Beitrag zur Erforschung der Sprachgeschichte Afrikas. (Quellen zur Khoisan-Forschung, 12), Koppe, Cologne. È Watkins, C., 1998. Thoughts on reading Dixon (1997). Paper presented at the International Workshop The Connection Between Areal Di€usion and the Genetic Model of Language Relationship, Canberra, Australia, August, 1998. Westermann, D., Bryan, M.A., 1970. Languages of West Africa, Handbook of African Languages, Part II. Oxford University Press for the International African Institute, London.