Tag Archives: Syntax
6/29-30 Diachronic Syntax

June 29-30, 2013
2330 Mason Hall

Organizer contact: David Lightfoot (lightd@georgetown.edu)

Click here for Workshop website.

See Workshop Description

Work on diachronic syntax has developed remarkably over recent decades, primarily through two impetuses: (i) seeking to explain change in I-language through changes in E-language and principles of language acquisition, and (ii) using search mechanisms linked to computerized corpora of partially parsed historical texts.  The workshop will be devoted to exploring these developments.  Both developments link work on sociolinguistic variation with the emergence of new I-languages and this will be an emphasis of the workshop.

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7/13-14 Patterns of Alignment in the Indo-Iranian Languages: Towards a Typology

July 13-14, 2013
2336 Mason Hall

Organizer contacts: Andrew Hippisley (andrew.hippisley@uky.edu), Greg Stump (gstump@uky.edu)

Click here for workshop website.


See Workshop Description

In their early history, the Iranian and Indic languages developed split-ergative alignment, independently but in parallel. The languages in both branches vary widely with respect to both (a) their degree of reversion to accusative alignment and (b) the trajectories that they have followed in this reversion. The objectives of this workshop is to establish a typology of paths from split ergativity to full accusativity and to identify parallels and contrasts between Indic and Iranian languages.


Invited speakers
Ashwini Deo (Yale University)
The emergence of accusative objects in New Indo-Aryan ergative clauses.

Geoffrey Haig (University of Bamberg)   
Alignment change in Iranian: what happened to agreement?

Andrew Hippisley & Greg Stump (University of Kentucky)
The morphomics of split-ergativity in Indo-Iranian

Paul Kiparsky (Stanford University)
Ranking volume predicts directionality: an OT-based theory of syntactic drift

Agnes Korn (Universität Frankfurt)
Patterns of ergativity and differential object marking in Iranian

Annie Montaut (Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris)
From the parallel constructions for past and modal future to the meaning of the ergative case markers

John Payne (University of Manchester)
Alignment and coordination in Iranian

Pollet Samvelian (Université de Paris 3 – Sorbonne Nouvelle)
Clitics and alignment in Iranian languages

Saartje Verbeke (Universiteit Gent)
Alternating argument constructions in Indo-Aryan: Case studies from Nepali and Kashmiri

Deadline for abstract submission is February 1, 2013. Abstracts should be sent to both  andrew.hippisley@uky.edu and gstump@uky.edu.


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Syntactic Typology, Syntactic Theory, and Syntactic Reconstruction

Mark Hale – Concordia University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2336 Mason Hall

See Course Description

This course is designed to walk students, beginning with conceptual basics, through the myriad of complex issues which surround the relationship between the two distinct approaches to `universalism’ (typological generalization and formal model construction) and the task of syntactic reconstruction. There is considerable debate in the literature as to the possibility of actually reconstructing the syntax of a protolanguage, with a general split between nay-sayers (usually ‘formalists’, though I myself hate using labels) and advocates (usually ‘functionalists, though, ditto) regarding the process.

We will begin with a consideration of the relationship between typology,  formal model construction and reconstruction methodology in a somewhat less controversial (though still subject to much debate) domain: that of phonological reconstruction, thus exploring the debate between typologists and formalists in a domain within which there is no serious dissent as to the practability of reconstruction.

We next turn to a survey of typological approaches to syntactic structure, including the wealth of new tools (e.g., the WALS database) now available to assist scholars in establishing an empirical foundation for their investigation.  The general theoretical issue of the ‘grounding’ of typological generalizations will be raised at this juncture as well (since this forms part of the basis for the conflict between ‘functionalists’ and ‘formalists’ in reconstruction).

Next, we turn to the often very different kinds of generalizations that ‘formalist’ models seek to account for, the types of evidence which are offered up for such generalizations, and the ‘grounding’ (in this case, in UG) of the accounts offered.

We turn finally to the question of how these two types of approach play out for the issue of syntactic reconstruction. What are the ‘units of analysis’ in the two domains which COULD (in principle) be reconstructed? What would the successful reconstruction of such units tell us about the ‘syntax’ (in the descriptive sense) of the proto-language and what would it leave unclear?

In conclusion, we move to the practical consideration of three specific ‘test cases’:

(1) embedded clause stuctures in Proto-Indo-European,

(2) the ergative vs. accusative reconstruction of Proto-Polynesian and

(3) Wackernagel’s Law and the ‘left periphery’ (i.e., syntax-discourse interface) in Proto-Indo-European. We will conclude with some general lessons, open avenues for future research, etc.

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