Speaker: Dr. Alan King
Title: Kotik molmal! Discovering Lenca, a lost language of Central America
Abstract: Two related languages named Lenca were spoken in Honduras and El Salvador until the 20th century near the geographical border between two major cultural and linguistic areas. I will report on a current attempt to “reconstruct” these languages by supplementing standard linguistic analysis of data with clues from “indirect evidence” such as internal coherence, cognate languages, general typological profiling and locally shared areal features. The talk will include discussion of an inferred grammatical element, a topic marking mechanism, which was hypothesized to explain textual forms and may be echoed in an unrelated neighbouring language, Tol, to illustrate the full range of tools available and the importance of areal typology.