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On the external relations of Purepecha

On April 26th, Kate Bellamy succesfully defended her doctoral thesis and graduated. The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics congratulates Kate on this great result.

Kate Bellamy
26 April 2018
Full text in Leiden University Repository


This thesis considers Purepecha from the perspectives of genealogy and contact, as well as offering insight into word formation processes. The genealogy study re-visits the most prominent classification proposals for Purepecha, concluding on the basis of a quantitative lexical comparison and a typological comparison of affix ordering that there is no signal of relatedness between Purepecha and any other sampled language. The two language contact studies address possible interaction between Purepecha and other languages at long-distance, regional and local levels. The lexicon of metallurgy, the most convincing archaeological evidence for long-distance interaction, does not support this contact scenario although the lack of observable loanwords in this domain may reflect the largely non-verbal nature of technology transmission. At the regional and local levels Purepecha also displays very few borrowings from the prehispanic period. This paucity of borrowings is reversed in the modern period, with Spanish exerting a heavy influence in all domains. The shift in borrowing pattern is explained by huge socio-political change since the imposition of Spanish. The word formation studies focus on the varying semantic transparency of roots and suffixes, with a specific emphasis on olfactory language. They also introduce the notion that roots may be precategorial in nature.

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