The Dene-Kusunda Hypothesis: A Critical Account

Gerber, Pascal (2017). The Dene-Kusunda Hypothesis: A Critical Account. Man In India : an international journal of anthropology, 97(1), pp. 111-204. Serials Publications

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The Dene-Yenisseian hypothesis (Vajda 2010a, 2013) linking the Yenisseian languages and
the Na-Dene languages has gained some attention as the first substantial proposal of a
linguistic connection across the Bering Strait. At the same time, morphological material has
been interpreted as evidence for a genealogical relationship between Yenisseian, Burushaski
and Kusunda (van Driem 2001, 2008, 2014). The two hypotheses have been linked under the
name ‘Dene-Yenisseian’ by van Driem (2014: 80) but I hereby introduce the term ‘Dene-
Kusunda’ to designate the hypothesis of a genealogical relationship between Kusunda,
Burushaski, Yenisseian and Na-Dene. This paper aims to review the Dene-Kusunda hypothesis
by presenting a critical evaluation of the morphological data amassed as evidence in van
Driem (2001, 2008, 2014), Vajda (2010a, 2013) and Gerber (2013). The argumentation in
favour of Dene-Kusunda looks promising at first sight, but much of it can be explained by
chance or selective analysis. A more definite evaluation of this proposal must await more
studious work on the individual languages, but it is in fact likely that the putative time depth
inhibits an ultimate verification or falsification.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of Linguistics > Comparative Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Gerber, Pascal


400 Language > 410 Linguistics




Serials Publications




Pascal Gerber

Date Deposited:

13 Dec 2017 10:42

Last Modified:

01 Nov 2019 07:40




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