Similarities among languages of the Americas: An exploration of the WALS evidence
Søren Wichmann (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology,; Eric Holman (University of California, Los Angeles,; Dietrich Stauffer (University of Cologne,
Journal of Language Relationship, № 5, 2011 - p.130-134
An exploration of WALS (i.e. the World Atlas of Language Structures, edited by Haspelmath et al., 2005) has brought out a number of linguistic features that are significantly better represented in the New World than anywhere else. 24 such features remain when features that are restricted to certain subareas of the Americas are excluded. Two possible explanations are consistent with the available data. The features in question may be inherited from some language ancestral to all or most of the languages of the Americas. Alternatively, the features may be diffused across distances much greater than typically encountered in language areas. More data will be necessary to decide between these explanations.
Keywords: Native American languages, linguistic typology, language traits, genetic relationship, areal diffusion.