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The Case Against Linguistic Palaeontology

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Original languageEnglish
Accepted/In press1 Jan 2020

King's Authors


The method of linguistic palaeontology (or palaeolinguistics) has a controversial status within archaeology. According to its defenders, it promises the ability to see into the social and material cultures of prehistoric societies and uncover facts about peoples beyond the reach of archaeology. Its critics see it as essentially flawed and unscientific. Using a particular case-study, the Indo-European homeland problem, this paper attempts to discern the kinds of inference which proponents of linguistic palaeontology make and whether they can be warranted. I conclude that, while the case for linguistic palaeontology has often been overstated, so has the case against it.

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