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Subgrouping in Uto-Aztecan

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image of Language Dynamics and Change

The classical historical linguistic method for establishing a phylogenetic subgroup requires evidence of shared innovation from a reconstructed protolanguage. In spite of the fact that UtoAztecan is one of the better-known American language families, there is surprisingly little work on the family within this framework. Instead, subgrouping hypotheses have emerged largely from the application of lexicostatistical methods. With the exception of two very clearly defined clades, Aztecan and Tepiman, Uto-Aztecan subgrouping remains controversial. In this paper I discuss issues in subgrouping that emerge from attention to shared phonological innovation, and compare subgroups that, in my view, can be fairly securely established on this basis with the subgroups suggested by the recent efforts in numerical-taxonomic subgrouping undertaken by the ASJP Consortium.


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