Evaluating proposals for long-distance genetic relationships: Uto-Aztecan vs. Plateau-Penutian
The historical linguistics of Native North America has been replete with efforts to connect established language families via proposals of ever larger groupings (‘macro-families’ or ‘stocks’). This chapter reviews some of this history under the premise that proposals for such remote relations require the same burden of proof as any language family: (i) identification of systematic correspondences in form and meaning as established by the comparative method; and (ii) identification of shared morphological ‘aberrancies’ unlikely to develop independently via chance or transfer through contact. A case study is then presented which reviews a proposal relating the Plateau Penutian and Uto-Aztecan language families. The first criterion was not met in the original proposal, and this chapter examines a variety of aspects of comparative morphology and syntax to conclude that the second criterion has also not been met.
Haugen, Jason D. “Evaluating proposals for long-distance genetic relationships: Uto-Aztecan vs. Plateau-Penutian.” In The Routledge Handbook of North American Languages, edited by Daniel Siddiqi, et al., 549-571. New York: Routledge, 2019.