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mar. 09/10/2018 Atelier "History and Ecology of Language": Joshua Birchall (Museu Paraense Emilio Goeldi, Brazil) - Reconstructing form and function in the Proto-Tupi-Guarani kinship system
14h00-15h30
ISH, salle Ennat Léger

Ethnographic research among Tupi-Guaranian peoples has had a profound effect on what we see as "typical" for Amazonian societies. Even though modern anthropology recognizes the cultural variation observable across the neotropics, little work has been done to understand the historical developments that have produced such diversity. On the other hand, linguistic work on cultural terminology has often been carried out without engaging with the larger discussion on the distribution of different cultural traits and how this distribution came about. In this talk I discuss ongoing work on the reconstruction of the kinship system in Proto-Tupi-Guaraní. Our team has combined a number of different tools to explore the development of kinship terminology in PTG: a modern approach to lexical databases; classical linguistic reconstruction; typological categorization of kin relations according to ethnological considerations; and, computational tools adopted from evolutionary biology to make inferences about the past, namely bayesian phylogenetic inference and ancestral state reconstruction. I discuss these different tools and show how this multi-pronged approach can be used to identify the various changes that occurred in the kin structure of various Tupi-Guaranian societies throughout the diversification of the language family.




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