Geolinguistic complexity in Berber. Structural and algorithmic perspectives

Abstract : The present article discusses how the combination of structural (qualitative) and al-gorithmic (quantitative) perspectives provides valuable insights into geolinguistic patterning and variability, and hence testifies to the importance of the integrating approach in addressing geolinguistic complexity. In doing so, it shows how language is constantly modulated in the form of innovations that emerge in structurally layered and causal formations, dictated by a subtle interplay between system-based and system external properties. A case that accounts for this kind of geolinguistic complexity is provided by this data-driven study on Berber (Afro-asiatic), which shows how certain phonological and morphological innovation processes triggered by the vocalisa-tion of the liquids /r/, /ṛ/, /rr/ and /ṛṛ/ in Rif Berber (North, Northeast, and Northwest Morocco) create language variation and change. Furthermore, the Berber data examined demonstrate the significant role of certain system-internal factors, such as economy and code conformity, in the diffusion of new phonetic, phonological, and morphological items. In order to better understand the intricacy of the various vocalisa-tion phenomena addressed in the study, the results of the qualitative analysis (synchrony and diachrony) are also contrasted with the algorithmic results ensuing from computing geolinguistic distances by means of the Levenshtein distance calculating method with phone strings tokenised in pair-wise alignments (pondered variables).
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Mena B. Lafkioui. Geolinguistic complexity in Berber. Structural and algorithmic perspectives. Dialectologia et Geolinguistica, De Gruyter, 2018, 26 (1), pp.33-56. ⟨10.1515/dialect-2018-0003⟩. ⟨hal-01926163⟩

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