Friday, November 17 at 3:30 PM: Fieldwork Recap (Part 1)

The Language Variation and Change workshop will host its first fieldwork recap session this Friday, November 17th at 3:30 PM in Rosenwald 301. Come learn where students are doing their fieldwork, their methods, and the challenges they face. This week we’ll hear from Hilary McMahan, Cherry Meyer, Kat Montemurro, and Adam Singerman! A small reception will follow everyone’s presentations.

LVC Fall 2017 Schedule

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.

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Friday, October 6th at 3:30 PM (Rosenwald 301): Jessica Kantarovich (UChicago)

Friday, November 3rd at 1:00 PM (Cobb 119): 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 (Cobb 202): Tatiana Nikitina (CNRS, Paris)

Friday, December 1st at 3:30 PM (Rosenwald 301): Fieldwork Recap Part 2


Friday, November 3 at 1 PM: Adam Singerman (UChicago) — joint with Morph&Syn

Please join us for a talk by Adam Singerman at a joint meeting with the Morphology & Syntax workshop, on Friday, November 3rd at 1 PM in Cobb 119. Details in the attached abstract.

Evidentiality, grammatical number, and physical position in Tuparí

Adam Singerman (University of Chicago)

Friday, October 6th at 3:30 PM: Jessica Kantarovich (UChicago)

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

Jessica Kantarovich
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.


Friday, April 14th at 3:30 PM: Lev Michael (UC Berkeley)

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”

Lev Michael
UC Berkeley

Spring 2017 Meeting Schedule

Please find below the preliminary spring schedule for the Language Variation and Change workshop. All talks will be held in Rosenwald 011, unless otherwise noted.

Friday, 4/14 at 3:30: Lev Michael (UC Berkeley), Lexical homology in computational phylogenetics: A comparative Tupí-Guaraní case study
Friday, 4/28 at 3:30: Cécile Vigouroux (Simon Frasier University)
Monday, 5/8 at 3:30: Friederike Luepke (SOAS)
Friday, 5/12 at 3:30: Hilary McMahan (UChicago)
Friday, 5/19, time TBD, in Harris 319: Grammar-Writing Workshop
Friday, 6/2 at 3:30: Cherry Meyer (UChicago)

Friday, March 3rd at 3:30 PM: Brian Joseph at LVC

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”

Brian Joseph
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

Friday, February 24 at 1 PM: Adam Singerman (UChicago) – Joint with Morph&Syn

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.


Winter 2017 LVC Schedule Changes

There have been some changes to the LVC schedule for this quarter.

  1. 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.
  2. Emmanuel Ngue Um’s visit has been delayed until the first week of March.
  3. Brian Joseph’s talk will take place on March 3rd as expected.

Winter 2017 LVC Schedule

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)