Linguistic relationships between the Apachean sub-group and Northern Athapaskan

Author(s): Sally Rice; Conor Snoek; Michaela Stang

Year: 2017


Linguistic evidence has long played an important role in determining the relationship of Apachean peoples to Northern Athapaskans (Sapir 1936). While Apachean membership within the larger Athapaskan family is firmly established, the more precise determination of their linguistic affiliation to Northern Athapaskan linguistic groups has proved more difficult (Rice 2012). The reasons for this difficulty arose chiefly from the lack of available data and the limitations in the power of analytic methods employed. Recent scholarship has led to improved availability and quality of lexical source materials for Athapaskan. Lexical comparison, the cornerstone of historical linguistic research, can now be carried out on more wide-ranging and disparate data. Methodologically, comparative linguistics has developed to a stage where reliable methods for the investigation of historical linguistic relationships have become established, especially in the fields of dialectometry (Nerbonne et al. 2011) and phylogenetic linguistics (Greenhill & Gray 2009). In this paper, we apply these quantitative methods to lexical data compiled in the Pan-Athapaskan Comparative Lexicon, a database containing over 20,000 words from the terminological domains of anatomy, kinship, fauna/fish/insects, flora, landscape, gaming, among others. We compare the results of our analyses with existing hypotheses concerning the closest linguistic relatives of the Apacheans.

Cite this Record

Linguistic relationships between the Apachean sub-group and Northern Athapaskan. Sally Rice, Conor Snoek, Michaela Stang. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 431883)

Spatial Coverage

min long: -142.471; min lat: 42.033 ; max long: -47.725; max lat: 74.402 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15683