Please join us for a talk by yours truly at LVC on October 6th at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301. Details about the talk are below.
Alignment shift in Chukotkan: the case against contact-induced change
University of Chicago
The Chukotkan branch of the Chukotko-Kamchatkan family displays an unusual kind of ergativity, with unambiguously ergative case marking on nouns but an “ergative split” in the verb. Based on Fortescue’s (1997, 2003) reconstructions and the accusative patterning of Kamchatkan, ergative case marking appears to be an innovation in Chukotkan. While Fortescue argues that this change arose due to substrate effects from Yupik, I argue that this is unlikely, based on other contact-driven changes in both language families and the nature of this contact. Instead, I propose that the change was internally-motivated, stemming from the reanalysis of a passive participial.
Welcome to another year of the Language Variation and Change workshop! The current schedule for this quarter is given below; check back here for updates throughout the quarter and also look for individual announcements.
If you would like to be added to the LVC mailing list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Friday, October 6th at 3:30 PM (Rosenwald 301): Jessica Kantarovich (UChicago)
Friday, November 3rd at 1:00 PM (TBA): Adam Singerman (UChicago) — joint with the Morphology&Syntax workshop
Friday, November 17th at 3:30 PM (Rosenwald 301): Fieldwork Recap Part 1
Monday, November 20th at 3:30 PM (TBA): Tatiana Nikitina (CNRS, Paris)
Friday, December 1st at 3:30 PM (Rosenwald 301): Fieldwork Recap Part 2
Please join us for a talk by visiting speaker Lev Michael of the University of California Berkeley. The talk will be Friday, April 14th at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 011. Refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there!
“Lexical homology in computational phylogenetics: A comparative Tupí-Guaraní”
LVC is very pleased to be hosting Brian Joseph of OSU this Friday, March 3rd. We hope you can join us for his talk at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301. As always, there will be a small reception following the talk.
“Social and Semantic Factors in the Diffusion of Morpho-Syntactic Change — Evidence from the Infinitive in Greek and the Balkans”
Ohio State University
A key feature differentiating latter Greek from Classical Greek is the demise of the verbal category and set of verbal forms known as the infinitive. Starting in Koine Greek of the Hellenistic period, we see a gradual erosion of the domain of the infinitive – both as to use and as to form – culminating in the modern form of the language with no infinitive at all. Rather, there is only finite subordination with verbal forms marked for person, number, and aspect, and in some instances tense. Moreover, this retreat of the infinitive and spread of finite subordination is found throughout all of the Balkan languages. I trace here the spread, i.e. the diffusion, of the loss of the infinitive within Greek, first examining the semantic factors that play a role in the progression of infinitive-loss and tying it to event structure. I then shift gears and look at a seemingly anomalous late retention of the infinitive in Jewish Greek of Constantinople, and tie that to the social circumstances of Jewish languages in general. In this way I provide some insight into both the semantic and the social side of the diffusion of a key morpho-syntactic change in Greek and other languages in the Balkans.
Poster with Event Details
Please join us this Friday, February 24th at 1PM in Rosenwald 208 for a joint meeting of LVC and the Morphology & Syntax workshops. Our speaker will be Adam Singerman.
“Finite embedding and quotation in Tuparí”
Adam Roth Singerman
University of Chicago
Tuparí (Tupían; Brazil) has innovated a finite embedding construction that bears the structural hallmarks of an internal headed relative clause. What makes this construction typologically unusual is that it instantiates an apparent violation of the Final-over-Final Condition (a proposed universal discussed at length in recent work by Biberauer, Holmberg, Roberts, and Sheehan): the Tuparí configuration shows a left-branching syntactic projection dominating a right-branching one.
This talk will present the main descriptive and analytic generalizations concerning finite embedded clauses in Tuparí and will examine the implications for current theories of syntactic disharmony: Biberauer et al’s FOFC and Hawkins’s Performance-Grammar Correspondence Hypothesis. In particular, I will show that the Tuparí facts are more problematic for the PGCH than for FOFC (even if FOFC’s appeal to innate constraints in UG is not fully satisfactory as an explanatory mechanism).
The talk concludes with an examination of the origins of finite embedded clauses in Tuparí. While such clauses transparently involve the grammaticization of a demonstrative third person pronoun as a clausal subordinator, there is evidence that the backwards syntactic dependencies visible in direct quotation have also played a role.
There have been some changes to the LVC schedule for this quarter.
- Adam Singerman’s March 10th talk has been cancelled due to other ongoing events in the Linguistics Department. Instead, please join us for a joint meeting of the LVC and Syntax&Morphology workshops this Friday, February 24th at 1PM, where Adam will talk about his work. Details to follow.
- Emmanuel Ngue Um’s visit has been delayed until the first week of March.
- Brian Joseph’s talk will take place on March 3rd as expected.
The schedule for the rest of the quarter has more or less been finalized. Hope to see you there!
Friday, January 27 at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301 — Robert Lewis (UChicago)
Late February (exact date TBD) — Emmanuel Ngue Um (University of Yaounde and CERDOTOLA)
Friday, March 3 at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301 — Brian Joseph (OSU)
Friday, March 10 at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301 — Adam Singerman (UChicago)
Welcome back to another exciting quarter of talks from the LVC workshop! We’re kicking things off with a talk from postdoc Lilia Rissman. So come join us in Rosenwald 301 this Friday, January 13th, at 3:30 PM. A light reception will follow the talk.
“Consistency and variability in the mapping from event concepts to event semantics”
University of Chicago
Developing language requires constructing mappings between concepts and linguistic forms. This talk addresses the structure of this interface across languages: whether event concepts map to semantic structures in similar ways, and whether some concepts are more likely to be expressed in language than others. I focus in particular on verbal meaning, causation, instrumentality and voice, integrating evidence from English, Spanish, Mandarin, child homesign and Nicaraguan Sign Language. Taken together, these studies point toward a conceptual/semantic interface in which conceptual knowledge drives cross-linguistic similarities, but some concepts are expressed more variably than others.
Please join LVC this Friday, December 2 at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301. It will be our last meeting of the quarter and our speaker is our own Jacob Phillips. Hope you can make it!
“Retraction in Action: Examining phonological and prosodic effects on /s/-retraction in the laboratory”
University of Chicago
An ongoing sound change in American English is /s/-retraction, the process by which /s/ is articulated approaching /ʃ/ in the context of /r/. Speakers vary significantly in the degree of retraction observed, with all individuals exhibiting coarticulatory effects of /r/ in /sCr/ clusters and some individuals displaying an apparent sound change, with /s/ reanalyzed as /ʃ/ in /str/ clusters (Mielke et al., 2010; Baker et al., 2011). The present study uses experimental methods seeks to better understand the actuation of this sound change through a phonological and prosodic lens. College-aged students from across the United States read a series of sentences manipulating the phonological and prosodic environments of these sibilant. The results of this study demonstrate a retracted /s/ in the context of /r/ and phrase-intitially. While there was not a significant group-level effect for the interaction of prosodic position and phonological environment, the inclusion of by-subject random slopes for that interaction, which significantly improves model likelihood, suggests that individuals vary with respect to the effects of prosodic conditioning of /s/-retraction in different phonological contexts. These findings suggest a possible role of prosodic position in the actuation of sound change, both in production and possible effects in perception.