Volume 1, Issue 1 (2002)
Reanalysis of Passive and Negative Prefixes in Seri
by Stephen A. Marlett (PDF - 203k)
Two productive Seri prefixes, negative and passive, are in a
limited number of cases reanalyzed as part of the verb stem. This reanalysis has
produced homophonous verb forms: one group is clearly analytical (affix + root)
and one group is clearly synthetic. The evidence that reanalysis has taken place
is presented. These new verb roots enter into new morphological constructions.
And since the original analytical verb forms continue to exist, the result is
the coexistence of homophonous and sometimes virtually synonymous words (such as
the original transitive verb and a new causative verb that is based on a
On Some Control Structures in Hellenistic Greek: A Comparison with Classical and Modern Greek
by Brian D. Joseph (PDF - 234k)
Control Structures in Ancient Greek typically involved infinitival
complementation while in Modern Greek, finite complementation is the rule. Hellenistic
Greek provides an interesting "way-station" between these two types of complementation,
inasmuch as it is both chronologically and structurally transitional. In this
contribution to the historical syntax of Greek, an analysis is offered of control
structures in Hellenistic Greek, tracing the transition from the Ancient Greek
type to the Modern Greek type. Based on the evidence of these three stages of
Greek and the developments that the language shows with regard to innovations
in the form and properties of control structures, an argument is put forth in
support of the view that control is not a purely syntactic phenomenon but rather
derives from the lexical semantics of the predicates involved.
Notes on Agreement in Itelmen
by Jonathan David Bobaljik and Susi Wurmbrand (PDF - 318k)
Agreement in Itelmen is represented by means of both prefixes and suffixes. While
the prefixes reference subjects (of both transitive and intransitive verbs), the
suffixal agreement morphemes on a given verb may reference the subject, the object,
or an oblique argument, or some combination of these. We propose that the proper
characterization of the factors that determine which arguments control suffixal
agreement involves a division of labour between morphology and a notion of discourse
prominence/salience. In essence, we propose that the suffixal agreement morpheme
is an object agreement marker, but the features of the subject are reflected in
this position when the object lacks the relevant features (for example, we treat
third person as the lack of a person feature), or is absent altogether (thus,
intransitive verbs agree twice with their subjects). When a verb occurs with an
oblique as well as a direct object, discourse salience will determine which of
these non-subject arguments will control object agreement. In addition to providing
a description of a complex range of facts from Itelmen, the paper sheds light
on the nature of “multiple exponence” and the role of “competition”
among affixes for a particular position in the verbal agreement system.
What Does Yaghan Have to Do with Digital Technology?
by Lenore A. Grenoble and Lindsay J. Whaley (PDF - 175k)
Digital media offers some powerful new ways to organize and transmit linguistic data. This editorial suggests that linguists need to be more aggressive in exploting the technology so that information about language is spread more rapidly and in a more efficient format. To make this point, the case of fieldwork on Yaghan is examined. Though early fieldwork was carried out on Yaghan very little about the language is known because of the way the data was collected and reported.
Volume 1, Issue 2 (2002)
Origins of Apparent Violations of the "No Phrase" Constraint in Modern Georgian
by Alice C. Harris (PDF - 237k)
It is widely suggested in the literature that words are
based on words, roots, or stems, but not on phrases (the "No Phrase"
Constraint). In Modern Georgian, constructions such as megobar-ta-gan-i
'[one, some] of the friends' are common; they appear to violate the "No Phrase"
Constraint because gan 'from' is traditionally considered a postposition.
In this example, -i, the marker of the nominative case, serves as both
inflectional and derivational morphology, deriving a substantive, apparently
from the postpositional phrase. The paper demonstrates that the construction at
issue originated in double case marking. Old Georgia had case marking of this
sort, in which case markers occurred not only on head nouns, but also at the
right edges of phrases. The same phenomenon was found with postpositional
phrases inside an NP, and it is proposed here that although Modern Georgian does
not have double case marking, it is the origin of the modern construction
A New Passive in Kaqchikel
by George Aaron Broadwell and Lachlan Duncan (PDF - 309k)
This paper contrasts two passives in Kaqchikel, a Mayan
language spoken in Guatemala. The first passive, which we label the
‘standard passive’ is already well-attested in the literature.
However, the second passive, which we label the ‘ki-passive’, has
not been previously described. A verb in the ki-passive shows active morphology,
with ergative agreement for a third person plural subject, as would be
appropriate for a verb with an impersonal ‘they’ subject.
In Kaqchikel, however, we argue that this verb form has
evolved into a new passive. The paper compares the properties of the standard
passive and the ki-passive, and argues that while they involve the same change
of grammatical relations, the two passives differ in the discourse functions
they assign to the agent and patient.
Volume 2, Issue 1 (2003)
A Particle of Indefiniteness in American Sign Language
by Carol Neidle, Frances Conlin and Paul Hagstrom (PDF - 531k)
We describe here the characteristics of a very frequently-occurring ASL indefinite focus particle, which has not previously been recognized as such. We show here that, despite its similarity to the question sign "WHAT", the particle is distinct from that sign in terms of articulation, function, and distribution. The particle serves to express "uncertainty" in various ways, which can be formalized semantically in terms of a domain-widening effect of the same sort as that proposed for English "any" by Kadmon & Landman (1993). Its function is to widen the domain of possibilities under consideration from the typical to include the non-typical as well, along a dimension appropriate in the context.
Iambic Feet in Paumari and the Theory of Foot Structure
by Daniel L. Everett (PDF - 375k)
This paper analyzes stress and
moraic constituencies in Paumari, an endangered language of the Arawan family of
the Brazilian Amazon. It argues that Paumari feet are quantity-insensitive
iambs, built from right-to-left within the prosodic word. Both of these latter
claims are theoretically important because they violate some proposed universals
of foot structure. The paper also discusses more general implications of the
Paumari data for theories of foot size and shape, proposing two constraints on
foot size, Foot Maximality and Foot Minimality, to replace the less fine-tuned
constraint Foot Binarity.
Volume 2, Issue 2 (2004)
Contrastive tone in Kalam Kohistani
by Joan L.G. Baart (PDF - 773k)
It has been observed that tonal
phenomena occur in quite a few Indo-Aryan languages in the northwestern corner
of the South-Asian subcontinent. This paper presents a study of the tone system
of one of these languages, Kalam Kohistani. After establishing that Kalam
Kohistani has five contrastive surface tones—a high tone, a low tone, a
rising tone, and two types of falling tone—I propose an analysis of these
tones in terms of Autosegmental Phonology. Furthermore, some observations are
made on the relation between aspiration and tone, and on the functional load of
tone in Kalam Kohistani. Its relatively rich inventory of tones makes Kalam
Kohistani, along with two of its close neighbors, stand out as unique among the
A crosslinguistic lexicon of the labial flap
by Kenneth S. Olson and John Hajek (PDF - 416k)
We provide a large sample of the occurrences of the labial flap in
the world’s languages, including audio and video data from the Mono
dialect of Mid-Southern Banda. This sample provides the evidence for Olson and
Hajek’s (2003) crosslinguistic generalizations concerning the
articulation, the geographic distribution, the genetic distribution, and the
phonological status of the speech sound.
Substratal Influence on the Morphosyntactic Properties of Krio
by Malcolm Awadajin Finney (PDF - 175k)
The morphosyntactic development of Atlantic creoles, including Krio,
an English-based creole in Sierra Leone, is a highly debated issue, with the
controversy centering on the extent of the influence of the properties of
substrate West African languages, if any, on the development of Krio
morphosyntax. Contrary to proposals that creoles (including Krio) tend to
exhibit basic, universal, simplistic, and transparent grammar, this paper
presents evidence of substratal influence on the morphosyntactic properties of
Krio. The properties of three morphosyntactic structures—focused
constructions, verb serialization, and complementation—are examined and
evidence is provided for an intricate and productive system of morphosyntactic
operations that sometimes generate structures of a regional rather than a
universal orientation. In addition, these are linguistically marked structures
that are extremely difficult to account for under proposed universal unmarked
principles of grammar as currently stipulated.
Volume 3, Issue 1 (2005)
Argument Marking in Ditransitive Alignment Types
by Martin Haspelmath (PDF - 569k)
This paper discusses the patterns of case-marking/adpositional marking and indexing of ditransitive clauses in the world's languages, i.e. clauses with an Agent, a Recipient and a Theme argument. It distinguishes three major alignment types, indirective, secundative, and neutral, corresponding to accusative, ergative and neutral in monotransitive constructions. The alignment and coding patterns are recorded for a sample of 100 languages from around the world. Ditransitive alignment is compared with monotransitive alignment, alignment of case-marking/adpositional marking is compared to alignment of indexing, and the various coding types are distinguished, depending on the occurrence of zero-coding and overt coding. Seven cross-linguistic generalizations emerging from the data are proposed as valid tendencies, and possible functional explanations for these tendencies are discussed.
A Synchronic Lexical Study of Gbe Language Varieties: The Effects of Different Similarity Judgment Criteria
by Angela Kluge (PDF - 2477k)
In the context of a synchronic lexical study of the Gbe varieties of West Africa, this paper explores the question whether the use of different criteria sets to judge the similarity of lexical features in different language varieties yields the same or different conclusions regarding the relative relationships and clustering of the investigated varieties and the prioritization of further sociolinguistic research. Word lists elicited in 49 Gbe varieties were analyzed by means of the inspection method. To assess the effects of different similarity judgment criteria, two different similarity judgment criteria sets were applied to the elicited data to identify similar lexical items. The quantification of these similarity decisions resulted in the computation of two similarity matrices which were subsequently analyzed by means of correlation analysis and multidimensional scaling. The findings of the correlation analysis indicate a significant linear and positive relationship between both word-list computations, thus supporting the conclusion that application of either set of similarity judgment criteria would lead to similar clustering results for the Gbe data set. These findings are corroborated by the findings of multidimensional scaling which suggest that different sets of similarity judgment criteria lead to similar clustering results and similar conclusions as to the scope and priorities for further research
Notes from the Field:
A Typological Overview of the Seri Language
by Stephen A. Marlett (PDF - 358k)
This paper presents a concise overview of some typological characteristics of Seri, a language isolate spoken in northwestern Mexico. Glosses are given word by word only when indicated by precise alignment; otherwise they are given phrase by phrase. References to various more detailed descriptive works on Seri are not indicated in the text itself; one may consult the references at the end since the titles clearly indicate the content. The data are cited in the practical orthography (see section 5 for details on the sounds).
Volume 4, Issue 1 (2006)
Note to Volume 4.1
by Lenore A. Grenoble and Lindsay J. Whaley
A note from the editors
A cross-linguistic corpus of forms meaning yes
by Steve Parker (PDF - 555k)
Based on a carefully-compiled database of 604 attested forms for 'yes' taken from 512 languages spoken in over 70 countries, I show that this word exhibits a cross-linguistic tendency to contain laryngeal phonemes. As part of the statistical analysis I examine cognate items within specific genetic families and argue that certain phonotactic patterns involving 'yes' are not random in nature. These findings further corroborate the observation that glottal consonants often behave phonologically as a default or unmarked class of segments.
Notes from the Field:
Volume 5, Issue 1 (2007)
Lexicon and Description of Sui Adjective Intensifiers
by James N. Stanford (PDF - 513k)
Sui, an indigenous minority language of southwest China, has an
elaborate system of adjective intensification. Adjectives are intensified with
word-specific, bound morphemes that usually either rhyme with the base or
alliterate with the base. Stanford (2007) notes morpho-phonological patterns
that suggest reduplication, rhyme, alliteration, The Emergence of the Unmarked
(McCarthy & Prince 1994, Yip 2001), identity avoidance, and “Copy But
Don’t Repeat” (Kennard 2004). However, the adjective intensifiers
defy a simple, fully predictable explanation in such terms; the intensifier
lexicon may be best described as “patterned variety,” a case of
lexicalized poetry or a poeticized lexicon. Word formation is guided by general
patterns, but each specific intensifier may vary within those overall
guidelines. Many adjectives have multiple intensifiers that bear subtle semantic
and pragmatic distinctions. The current paper serves as a complement to Stanford
(2007) by providing a detailed lexicon of the Sui adjective intensifiers for
future reference and further analysis. This lexicon is based on the
author’s fieldwork and represents the first detailed account of Sui
adjective intensifiers for the wider linguistic community.
Ngbugu digital wordlist: A test case for best practices in archiving and presenting language documentation
by Gary F. Simons, Kenneth S. Olson and Paul S. Frank (PDF - 328k)
Language documentation faces challenges of data preservation and
accessibility. Data can be lost due to physical deterioration (e.g. field notes
or tape recordings) or outdated format (e.g. Microsoft Word 3.0). Archived data
is typically difficult to access, and it is sometimes found that the archived
information is inadequate for research purposes. Increased interest in language
documentation has coincided with advancements in digital technologies, offering
hope for meeting these challenges. This paper discusses the archiving of a
204-item wordlist of Ngbugu, an Ubangian language spoken in Central African
Republic, employing best practice recommendations. Our solution includes: TIFF
digital imaging of the original handwritten transcription, WAV digital recording
of the wordlist, descriptive markup encoding of the wordlist in XML employing
Unicode transcription, viewing and playback via an XSLT style sheet that renders
the information in HTML, publishing metadata for resource discovery with the
Open Language Archives Community (OLAC), and depositing the original materials
and digital representations in an institutional archive committed to long-term
preservation and access.
Notes from the Field:
Ngbugu digital wordlist: Presentation form
by Kenneth S. Olson and Jacques Vermond Mbomate (PDF - 264k)
This paper presents a 204-item digital wordlist of Ngbugu, an Ubangian language spoken in Central African Republic. The wordlist includes orthographic and broad phonetic transcriptions of the words, French and English glosses, an individual WAV recording of each word, GIF images of the original field transcriptions, and metadata for resource discovery. This presentation form of the wordlist was generated from an archived version (Olson 2006) following the procedure laid out in Simons, Olson and Frank (2007).
Volume 6, Issue 1 (2008)
Stress, Extrametricality and the Minimal Word in Seri
by Stephen A. Marlett (PDF - 313k)
Seri, a language isolate spoken in northwestern Mexico, regularly assigns stress to the penultimate syllable of a root; affixes are not relevant for determining the placement of stress. A heavy final syllable in the root attracts stress, however, although a final consonant is extrametrical. The final consonant of a word is relevant for the minimal word condition that major class lexical items respect, as this paper shows. Some roots have extrametrical final syllables and a few roots have exceptional stress. This paper documents these facts with audio recordings.
Perfectivity and time reference in Hausa
by Mahamane L. Abdoulaye (PDF - 372k)
The relative marking in Hausa marks discourse presupposition in perfective and imperfective relative clauses and out-of-focus clauses of focus and fronted wh-questions. However, the Relative Perfective also appears in storyline narrative clauses and various accounts try to find a common feature between relative clauses and narrative context. This paper rejects the common feature approach to Hausa relative marking and presents a systematic grammaticalization account of the functions of the Relative Perfective. The paper shows that in temporal when relative clauses headed by look?cin d? 'time that', the aspectual contrast Relative Imperfective vs. Relative Perfective has vanished, and the Relative Perfective indexes the specific time of the event. The temporal relative clauses differ from locative and manner adverbial relative clauses, whose semantics (location and manner) are not usual inflectional categories and they therefore maintain the aspectual contrast between Relative Perfective and Relative Imperfective. The paper shows that the new temporal category, the Specific Time Marker, spread to other environments and incorporated a time orientation feature in main clauses of narrative and dialogical discourse to become a simple past. The paper proposes a mixed tense and aspect TAM system for Hausa, a system positioned between aspect-only and tense-prominent systems.
A frequentist explanation of some universals of reflexive marking
by Martin Haspelmath (PDF - 391k)
This paper identifies a number of empirically observable universals of reflexive marking that concern the existence of a special reflexive pronoun and the length of the marker that is used in reflexive constructions, in various different positions of the nonreflexive or reflexive pronoun. Most of the proposed universals have been mentioned earlier in the literature, but they have not been very prominent because the literature on binding has focused on language-specific generalizations rather than identifying readily testable generalizations. I argue that all of these universals have their basis in a frequency asymmetry: Under different circumstances, the likelihood of an anaphoric pronoun being coreferential with the subject can be quite different, and this is argued to be the motivation for the universal patterns of form.
Volume 7, Issue 1 (2009)
Aspects of Northern Mao Phonology
by Michael Ahland (PDF - 1425k)
In general terms, the phonology of Omotic languages has received little attention. This paper presents core phonological properties of on Omotic language, Norther Mao. The discussion includes inventories of contrastive consonants, contrastive vowels, an examination of the vowel space, contrastive vowel length, vowel harmony in roots, syllable patterns, sibilant harmony, and an inventory of surface tonal melodies in nouns and verbs in citation form.
Covert Tense in Jarawara
by Alan Vogel (PDF - 807k)
This paper examines tenseless clauses in Jarawara, a member of the Arawa family spoken in Brazil. I argue that a subset of these clauses have a "covert" allomorph that marks immediate past eyewitness tense.
Participles and Finiteness: The Case of Akhvakh
by Denis Creissels (PDF - 461k)
Akhvakh, a Nakh-Daghestanian language belonging to the Andic (sub-) branch of the Nakh-Daghestanian family, has participial relative clauses headed by verb forms that can also head independent clauses. Akhvakh data contradict the inflectional approach to finiteness according to which finiteness as a clausal feature necessarily correlates with the morphological structure of verb forms, and support a constructional approach to finiteness. In particular, the formulation of a general definition of participles must be compatible with the fact that forms found in relative clauses in which they behave at the same time as verbal heads and as adjectival dependents of a head noun may also head constructions having a different status with respect to finiteness.
Notes from the Field:
Mono Digital Wordlist: Presentation Form
by Kenneth S. Olson and Mbakuwuse Tshangbaita (PDF - 455k)
This paper presents a 204-item digital wordlist of Mono, an Ubangian language spoken in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The wordlist includes orthographic and broad phonetic transcriptions of each word, French and English glosses, an individual WAV recording of each item, GIF images of the original field transcriptions, and metadata for resource discovery. An archival form of the wordlist was deposited into an institutional archive (the SIL Language and Culture Archives) and includes the original WAV digital recording, descriptive markup encoding of the wordlist in XML employing Unicode 5.1 transcription, TIFF images of the original field transcriptions, and the metadata record. The presentation form was then generated directly from the archival form.
Volume 8, Issue 1 (2010)
Introduction to the Special Issue "Semantic Maps: Methods and Applications"
by Michael Cysouw, Martin Haspelmath and Andrej L. Malchukov (PDF - 234k)
Introduction to the special issue on semantic maps
Semantic maps and the identification of cross-linguistic generic categories: evidentiality and its relation to epistemic modality
by Kasper Boye (PDF - 1236k)
Cross-linguistic generic categories like evidentiality, tense, aspect, number, and person are entrenched in linguistic theory. However, it is not clear whether there is much empirical substance to them. There is a remarkable lack of criteria for what counts as a category. This paper tries to show that semantic maps can be used to give empirical substance to claims about cross-linguistic generic categories. It is argued that, as falsifiable cross-linguistic generalizations, semantic maps provide us with a criterion for categorial status and category membership and also provide us with a basis for identifying relations between different categories. However, it is also argued that there are limits to the use of semantic maps in evaluating claims about cross-linguistic generic categories and that the criterion for categorial status and category membership provided by semantic maps ultimately needs to be supplemented by other criteria. In its argumentation this paper focuses on the category of evidentiality and on the relation between evidentiality and epistemic modality.
Commentary on Boye - Posting Grammatical Categories: Linguists' vs. Speakers' Generalizations
by Sonia Cristofaro (PDF - 230k)
Commentary on K. Boye
Commentary on Boye - Semantic Maps as Helpers in the Quest for Generic Categories
by Ljuba Veselinova (PDF - 200k)
Commentary on K. Boye
Author's Reply - Cross-linguistic Generic Categories Are Linguists' Generalizations
by Kasper Boye (PDF - 222k)
Reply to commentators
Semantic maps and mental representation
by Sonia Cristofaro (PDF - 1003k)
Semantic maps are usually assumed to describe a universal arrangement of different conceptual situations in a speaker's mind as determined by perceived relations of similarity between these conceptual situations. This paper provides a number of arguments that challenge this view, based on various types of evidence from processes of semantic change and synchronic implicational universals. The multifunctionality patterns described by semantic maps may originate from processes of form-function recombination in particular contexts rather than any perceived similarity between individual conceptual components. These patterns may also originate from the fact that a particular functional principle leads to the association of a particular construction type with different conceptual situations, independently of any specific relation between these conceptual situations as such. A number of synchronic and diachronic phenomena pertaining to the very structure of individual semantic maps further reveal that, even if one assumes that these provide a representation of similarity relations between different conceptual situations, they do so only to a limited extent.
Commentary on Cristofaro - What Do Semantic Maps Tell Us?
by William Croft (PDF - 503k)
Commentary on S. Cristofaro
Commentary on Cristofaro - Cognitive Mechanisms Need to be Operationalized
by Remi van Trijp (PDF - 304k)
Commentary on S. Cristofaro
Author's Reply - What Multifunctionality Patterns Tell Us
by Sonia Cristofaro (PDF - 229k)
Reply to commentators
Semantic maps as metrics on meanings
by Michael Cysouw (PDF - 1087k)
By using the world?s linguistic diversity, the study of meaning can be transformed from an introspective inquiry into a subject of empirical investigation. For this to be possible, the notion of meaning has to be operationalized by defining the meaning of an expression as the collection of all contexts in which the expression can be used. Under this definition, meaning can be empirically investigated by sampling contexts. A semantic map is a technique to show the relations between such sampled contextual occurrences. Or, formulated more technically, a semantic map is a visualization of a metric on contexts sampled to represent a domain of meaning. Or, put more succinctly, a semantic map is a metric on meaning.
To establish such a metric, a notion of (dis)similarity is needed. The similarity between two meanings can be empirically investigated by looking at their encoding in many different languages. The more similar these encodings, in language after language, the more similar the contexts. So, to investigate the similarity between two contextualized meanings, only judgments about the similarity between expressions within the structure of individual languages are needed. As an example of this approach, data on cross-linguistic variation in inchoative/causative alternations from Haspelmath (1993) is reanalyzed.
Commentary on Cysouw - What Should Be on a Map?
by Heiko Narrog (PDF - 246k)
Commentary on Cysouw
Author's Reply - Variation of Semantic Map Display Is Necessary
by Michael Cysouw (PDF - 212k)
Reply to Commentator
Building a semantic map: top-down versus bottom-up approaches
by Ferdinand de Haan (PDF - 874k)
This paper contrasts two methods for constructing semantic maps: the top-down model and the bottom-up model. It is argued that the bottom-up approach can be illuminating in solving long-standing issues. First, a sharp distinction is made between functions and domains: functions are indivisible semantic units, and domains are sets of functions. A bottom-up model starts with the functions and works its way up to the domain level. The difference between a bottom-up and a top-down model is illustrated by looking at the problem of evidentiality and epistemic modality, specifically the question of whether the verb /must/ is epistemic or evidential. It is argued that by looking at the functions of /must/ and related verbs (such as /be bound to, will/ and the Dutch cognate verb /moeten/) we can construct a semantic map that is both more accurate and more open to linguistic inquiry than a top-down map.
Commentary on de Haan - Evidentiality in Epistemic Modality: Let's Get the Whole Picture
by Heiko Narrog (PDF - 710k)
Commentary on de Haan
Commentary on de Haan - Can Semantic Maps Be Built Purely Bottom-up?
by Joost Zwarts (PDF - 209k)
Commentary on de Haan
Author's Reply - Epistemic Modality in Context
by Ferdinand de Haan (PDF - 221k)
An implicational map of parts of speech
by Kees Hengeveld and Eva van Lier (PDF - 1086k)
In this paper we present a two-dimensional implicational map of parts of speech. We show that this map constitutes an improvement with respect to the one-dimensional parts of speech hierarchy originally proposed in Hengeveld (1992) in terms of typological adequacy. In addition, our map is an innovation in relation to traditional semantic maps since it is implicational in nature and since the typological implications it contains are hierarchically ordered with respect to one another. Finally, our proposal shows that the analytical primitives underlying map models need not be exclusively semantic in nature, but may also include other dimensions, in this case pragmatic ones.
Commentary on Hengeveld & van Lier - The Added Value of the Connectivity Hypothesis for the Map of Parts of Speech
by Caterina Mauri (PDF - 318k)
Commentary on Hengeveld and van Lier
Authors' Reply - Connectivity in Implicational Maps
by Kees Hengeveld and Eva van Lier (PDF - 215k)
Reply to Commentator
Semantic maps and word formation: Agents, Instruments, and related semantic roles
by Eugenio R. Luján (PDF - 746k)
The semantic map methodology has been applied mainly to the analysis of the multifunctionality of grammatical morphemes?they allow one to deal with this problem without having to decide between monosemic and polysemic analyses. Similar issues arise when dealing with derivational morphemes and word formation patterns so that this methodology can be extended to their analysis. As a case study, causal semantic roles are surveyed in this paper, both synchronically and diachronically. Only Agents and Instruments seem to have specific word formation patterns, while Force and Means cannot be identified as proper semantic roles in word formation.
Semantic maps based on word formation patterns also allow for interesting comparisons to those drawn on the basis of grammatical morphemes. Given that they are based on different data, but semantically overlap to a certain extent, this can help to throw some light on the general validity of the results of the methodology. For instance, from a diachronic perspective there is an interesting difference concerning the evolution of Agent and Instruments markers as grammatical morphemes from word formation patterns?in word formation it is Agents that evolve into Instruments and this is the evolution expected according to the predictions made on the basis of general abstraction scales.
Analyzing Semantic Maps: A Multifactorial Approach
by Andrej L. Malchukov (PDF - 1214k)
In this paper I argue that semantic similarity is not the only factor which motivates polysemy patterns cross-linguistically; I also show that these other factors (markedness, distinguishability, etc) may give rise to polysemies which are problematic for established semantic maps. Only when these other interfering factors, both functional and structural, are featured out, does a semantic network emerge and a ?similarity map? reduce to a semantic map.
Commentary on Malchukov - Optimizing Classical Maps
by Heiko Narrog (PDF - 226k)
Commentary on Malchukov
Commentary on Malchukov - Three Questions about Analyzing Semantic Maps
by Bernhard Wälchli (PDF - 224k)
Commentary on Malchukov
Author's Reply - What Semantic Maps Show and What They Are Good for
by Andrej L. Malchukov (PDF - 226k)
Reply to Commentators
Semantic Maps or Coding Maps? Towards a Unified Account of the Coding Degree, Coding Complexity, and Coding Distance of Coordination Relations
by Caterina Mauri (PDF - 1191k)
The aim of this paper is to explore the degree to which semantic maps and conceptual spaces may comprehensively describe cross-linguistic variation by discussing the types of phenomena that may be consistently represented in a unified account. By analyzing the cross-linguistic coding of coordination relations, it will be argued that the degree to which every conceptual situation is explicitly coded by means of dedicated markers and the cross-linguistic possibility that two conceptual situations are coded by means of the same construction (coding degree) are not the only dimensions of cross-linguistic variation that may be described on a semantic map. On the contrary, it is possible to build a unified coding map accounting also for the presence and morphophonological complexity of overt markers coding the conceptual situations at issue (coding complexity). The integration of this representation with the Multi-Dimensional Scaling (MDS) technique will provide a representation for a further dimension of variation, namely the frequency with which two conceptual situations are coded by means of the same marker across languages (coding distance). It will be argued that the coding map and the MDS map are compatible and complementary and therefore highlight the possibility of building a unified representation of the coding degree, coding distance, and coding complexity of coordination relations.
A Diachronic Dimension in Maps of Case Functions
by Heiko Narrog (PDF - 378k)
One of the advantages of classical semantic maps with distinct connections between individual meanings (or functions) is that they are well suited for the inclusion of diachronic information. This paper intends to demonstrate how information on the directionality of meaning extension can be integrated into such maps. For this purpose, the diachronic dimension of three areas of case function, namely Companion-Instrument, Source-Agent, and Goal-Recipient, was investigated. As a result, it was found that in the case of most connections between meanings/functions in these areas, a clear directionality can be hypothesized, and relatively robust diachronic semantic maps can be constructed.
Commentary on Narrog - The Best of Two Maps
by Sander Lestrade (PDF - 205k)
Commentary on Narrog
Author's Reply: Towards More Informative Maps
by Heiko Narrog (PDF - 215k)
Author's reply to Commentator
Polysemous Qualities and Universal Networks, Invariance and Diversity
by Loïc-Michel Perrin (PDF - 2022k)
The topic of this paper is the conceptual organization of polysemous prototypical qualities. This study, based on data collected in 24 languages, makes use of a single notional space composed of 110 notions. This space enables us to separately represent the polysemies observed in each language as well as polysemous patterns observable in several languages in order to contrast the variability specific to each language with the linguistic invariance. The results show that what is common in the language sample is based on recurring polysemies organized in networks. This method will also be useful in explaining how the linguistic variability is built up. Indeed, some of the qualities involved in these networks always take part in polysemous associations specific to only one language. Such qualities, called federative notions, are characterized by the fact that they are regularly involved in polyse?mous patterns, and across numerous languages.
Commentary on Perrin - Drawing Networks from Recurrent Polysemies
by Michael Cysouw (PDF - 604k)
Commentary on Perrin
Author's Reply - Polysemous Qualities, Continuity, and Gradation
by Loïc-Michel Perrin (PDF - 293k)
Reply to Commentator
How Conceptual Are Semantic Maps?
by Andrea Sansò (PDF - 1246k)
The question addressed in this paper is whether (and to what extent) a semantic map aimed at representing the multifunctionality of a given construction (or set of constructions) in discourse can be thought of as endowed with conceptual reality. To be considered as a mental representa-tion that is essentially similar in all human brains, such a map should meet two requirements: (i) its nodes should be bundles of semantic and pragmatic properties that form conceptual arche-types, that is, ways of conceptualizing and categorizing dynamic or static configurations that are fundamental to human experience; (ii) there should be a high degree of regularity in the data material, i.e. each construction should be associated with a node or a contiguous set of nodes in a regular way. However, observing the use of grammatical constructions in discourse provides us with compelling evidence that discourse contexts are complex entities involving many differ-ent variables, and that ?a perfect fit is not the usual state of affairs for models of complex human behavior (including language)? (Croft and Poole 2008:6). Based on a previous analysis of vari-ous passive and impersonal constructions in a parallel corpus of five European languages, I will argue that a first-generation semantic map representing the distribution of these constructions in discourse and comprising a few conceptual archetypes may be only an idealized abstraction over the conflicting evidence of the association between discourse contexts and construction types. As an idealization, such a map is not particularly informative as to language-specific tendencies and idiosyncrasies and does not allow us to analyze all the datasets that we might be interested in analyzing. On the other hand, a second-generation semantic map proves to be a more reliable tool for representing variation in discourse and does not force the analyst to posit (and multiply) conceptual structures where there may be none
Grammaticalization and Semantic Maps: Evidence from Artificial Language
by Remi van Trijp (PDF - 849k)
Semantic maps have offered linguists an appealing and empirically rooted methodology for describing recurrent structural patterns in language development and the multifunctionality of grammatical categories. Although some researchers argue that semantic maps are universal and given, others provide evidence that there are no fixed or universal maps. This paper takes the position that semantic maps are a useful way to visualize the grammatical evolution of a language (particularly the evolution of semantic structuring) but that this grammatical evolution is a consequence of distributed processes whereby language users shape and reshape their language. So it is a challenge to find out what these processes are and whether they indeed generate the kind of semantic maps observed for human languages. This work takes a design stance towards the question of the emergence of linguistic structure and investigates how grammar can be formed in populations of autonomous artificial ?agents? that play ?language games? with each other about situations they perceive through a sensori-motor embodiment. The experiments reported here investigate whether semantic maps for case markers could emerge through grammaticalization processes without the need for a universal conceptual space.
Commentary on van Trijp - Analogy is an Implicit Universal Semantic Map
by Michael Cysouw (PDF - 234k)
Commentary on van Trijp
Author's Reply - Analogy Adapts to the Structure of the World
by Remi van Trijp (PDF - 294k)
Reply to Commentator
Similarity Semantics and Building Probabilistic Semantic Maps from Parallel Texts
by Bernhard Wälchli (PDF - 2113k)
This paper deals with statistical (non-implicational) semantic maps, built automatically using classical multidimensional scaling from a direct comparison of parallel text data (the Gospel according to Mark) in the domain of motion events (case/adpositions) in 153 languages from all continents in 190 parallel clauses. The practical objective is to present one way (among other possible ways) in which semantic maps can be built easily and fully automatically from large typological datasets (Section 3). Its methodological objective is to demonstrate that semantic maps can be built in various ways and that the sampling of languages and small differences in the method chosen to build a semantic map can have a strong influence on the results (Section 4). This does not mean that semantic space is arbitrary, but rather that it is dynamic (having stretching and shrinking dimensions). The theoretical aim of this paper is to discuss similarity semantics, the implicit theoretical basis behind the semantic map approach, and to show that similarity semantics is not novel, but has a long-standing tradition in philosophy and psychology (Section 2).
Commentary on Waelchi - The Dynamic Potential of Probabilistic Semantic Maps
by Andrea Sansò (PDF - 212k)
Commentary on W?lchi
Author's Reply - We Just Lag Behind, or Phonetics is Ahead of Semantics, as Usual
by Bernhard Wälchli (PDF - 207k)
Reply to Commentator
Semantic Map Geometry: Two Approaches
by Joost Zwarts (PDF - 901k)
This paper discusses two ways in which the geometry of a semantic map can be defined: on the basis of a set of cross-linguistic data or on the basis of a semantic analysis of the meanings involved. I will argue that under a purely ?data-driven? approach certain important aspects of contiguity in semantic maps, like exceptions and family resemblance structure, remain unclear and that we can get more insight into these aspects when working from a semantically defined geometry. The two approaches can complement each other in the use of semantic maps.
Commentary on Zwarts - A Multitude of Approaches to Make Semantic Maps
by Michael Cysouw (PDF - 407k)
Commentary on Zwarts
Author's Reply - Getting to the Points of a Semantic Map
by Joost Zwarts (PDF - 200k)
Reply to Commentator
Volume 9, Issue 1 (2011)
Coordination in Pribilof Islands Unangam Tunuu
by Anna Berge (PDF - 929k)
This paper provides a detailed analysis of conjunctive, disjunctive, and adversative coordination in the Pribilof Islands variety of Unangam Tunuu (Aleut). Although Unangam Tunuu prefers clause-chaining to coordinate structures, it nevertheless makes frequent use of coordination; and while Unangax̂ coordination is not typologically unusual, there are many subtleties in the use and distribution of particular coordinating particles. In this paper, I compare clause-chaining and coordination as strategies for expressing coordination in Unangam Tunuu; I examine the varieties of Unangax̂ coordinating particles, their sources and functions, their uses in different types of coordinating structures, and the effects of coordination on syntax.; and I show some ways in which syntactic, semantic, pragmatic and idiolectal factors affect the use of coordination or of a particular coordinating strategy.
The Phonetics and Phonology of Chuxnaban Mixe
by Carmen Jany (PDF - 1510k)
This paper presents the first detailed description of the phonetic structures of the endangered Mexican indigenous language Chuxnab?n Mixe, including a survey of the main features of the consonant system and acoustic measurements of the characteristics of the vowel system. Particular attention is given to phonological processes affecting the consonant system, such as voicing and place assimilation, and to the complex phonemic vowel distinctions between modal, breathy, glottalized, and interrupted vowels. While similar features have been identified in other Mixean and Mesoamerican languages, there are no acoustic studies. This work aims at introducing the phonetics and phonology of a previously undescribed language and at adding to the knowledge of Mixean and other Mesoamerican languages in general.
Downstep in Tiriki
by Mary Paster and Yuni Kim (PDF - 658k)
In this paper, we present an analysis of the tone system of Tiriki, a Bantu language spoken in Kenya and previously undescribed in the linguistic literature. We focus on downstep, a complex phenomenon that arises in a number of different and interesting ways in this language. We claim that tone in Tiriki is best analyzed in a model where downstep is represented phonologically by a floating low (L) tone between two high (H) tones. This constitutes a divergence from many previous analyses of tone in Bantu languages, where there is often no phonological L tone at all, and where downstep is commonly analyzed as the phonetic interpretation of two adjacent H tones. Crucial to our analysis is the observation that downstepped H tones in Tiriki alternate not only with underlyingly specified L tones, but also with default L tones assigned to syllables that are underlyingly toneless. The data provide evidence that insertion of default tones is not, as usually assumed in the literature, universally limited to being an intrinsically late phonological rule or a matter of phonetic implementation. Rather, default tone insertion in Tiriki is a full-fledged phonological process that can and does interact with other phonological processes.
The Intonation Patterns of Interrogatives in Persian
by Nima Sadat-Tehrani (PDF - 1183k)
This paper investigates the intonational properties of different types of interrogatives in Persian in the framework of the autosegmental-metrical theory of intonation. The structures studied are different types of yes/no questions, WH-questions, tag questions, and echo questions. The results, which are based on a total of nearly 400 read utterances recorded in laboratory conditions, show that the Persian Accentual Phrase (AP) with the pitch accent (L+)H* is present in all question types. Yes/no questions, whose accentuation follows the same constraints as declaratives, are characterized by a high Intonational Phrase boundary tone (H%), and have a greater pitch excursion and more final lengthening on the last AP than declaratives. The inclusion of particles and words such as aya, m?ge, and hič in the question adds an AP but does not change the core intonation pattern. In (multiple) WH-questions, which have a falling intonation similar to declaratives, the (final) WH-word is the nuclear pitch accent, followed by the deaccentuation of the upcoming elements. Echo questions end high and the boundary tone of their final AP can be either high or low. Contrastive focus APs are higher and longer than ordinary APs and deaccent what follows, even if it includes a WH-word.
Parts of Speech in Non-typical Function: (A)symmetrical Encoding of Non-verbal Predicates in Erzya
by Rigina Turunen (PDF - 749k)
Erzya non-verbal conjugation refers to symmetric paradigms in which non-verbal predicates behave morphosyntactically in a similar way to verbal predicates. Notably, though, non-verbal conjugational paradigms are asymmetric, which is seen as an outcome of paradigmatic neutralisation in less frequent/less typical contexts. For non-verbal predicates it is not obligatory to display the same amount of behavioural potential as it is for verbal predicates, and the lexical class of non-verbal predicate operates in such a way that adjectival predicates are more likely to be conjugated than nominals. Further, besides symmetric paradigms and constructions, in Erzya there are non-verbal predicate constructions which display a more overt structural encoding than do verbal ones, namely, copula constructions. Complexity in the domain of non-verbal predication in Erzya decreases the symmetry of the paradigms. Complexity increases in asymmetric constructions, as well as in paradigmatic neutralisation when non-verbal predicates cannot be inflected in all the tenses and moods occurring in verbal predication. The results would be the reverse if we were to measure complexity in terms of the morphological structure. The asymmetric features in non-verbal predication are motivated language-externally, because non-verbal predicates refer to states and occur less frequently as predicates than verbal categories. The symmetry of the paradigms and constructions is motivated language-internally: a grammatical system with fewer rules is economical.
Volume 9, Issue 2 (2011)
Introduction to the Special Issue on Caucasian Languages
by Ioana Chitoran and Denis Creissels (PDF - 95k, PDF - 95k)
Introduction to the special issue on Caucasian languages
Finiteness in Hinuq
by Diana Forker (PDF - 723k)
Hinuq (Nakh-Daghestanian language family, Caucasus, Russia) has a rich system of verbal forms. In independent/main clauses there are seven synthetic TAM forms, 20 periphrastic TAM forms, and two heterogeneous TAM forms that cannot be attributed clearly to one of these two groups. In dependent clauses there are about twenty forms that serve adverbial function, attributive function (i.e. headed and headless relative clauses) or complement function. To these forms belong suffixed forms that are traditionally called participles, adverbial participles, Infinitive and Masdar.
In this paper I analyze Hinuq verb forms and clause types with respect to categories and phenomena that have been associated with finiteness. I will explore which of the criteria actually apply to Hinuq and whether they form a cluster that could be subsumed under the notion of finiteness.
The Expression of Evidentiality between Lexicon and Grammar: A Case Study from Georgian
by Manana Topadze Gäumann (PDF - 734k)
Evidentiality in Georgian is generally regarded as a part of the TAM-paradigm, since the perfect tense developed evidential value as a secondary meaning. The reference to the information source can also be expressed by other means such as quotative markers or semi-grammaticalized lexical items. This paper gives a short overview of evidential structures in Georgian both at grammatical and lexical levels, analysing the current grammaticalization processes of evidentials in contemporary urban Georgian.
Evidentiality in Tsezic Languages
by Zaira Khalilova (PDF - 726k)
This paper examines evidentiality in Tsezic languages
On the Expression of Spatial Relations in Ardesen-Laz
by Silvia Kutscher (PDF - 1253k)
This paper gives an overview of the means of expression which are used in descriptions of spatial scenes in Laz. With motion verbs, Laz uses the satellite-framed strategy with motion-manner conflation in the verbal root. Path information is given in preverbal satellites. With respect to locative expressions it belongs to the multi-verb-type languages. Hence, considering the lexical properties of the verb roots, Laz is a rather ordinary language. However, with respect to the semantics of its spatial case system and the semantics of the satellites, i.e. its system of spatial preverbs, it will be shown that Laz is typologically rather unusual.
Ditransitive Constructions in Laz
by René Lacroix (PDF - 733k)
This paper examines ditransitives in Laz
Aspect in Chechen
by Zarina Molochieva (PDF - 436k)
This paper examines aspect in Chechen.
Volume 10, Issue 1 (2012)
Variation in Clause Combining: Views from the New World
by Jeanette Sakel, Marianne Mithun and Pier Marco Bertinetto (PDF - 163k)
Introduction to the special issue on clause combining
Exuberant Complexity: The Interplay of Morphology, Syntax, and Prosody in Central Alaskan Yup'ik
by Marianne Mithun (PDF - 712k)
Written varieties of many languages show greater syntactic complexity than their spoken counterparts. The difference is not surprising: writers have more time to create elaborate structures than speakers, who must produce speech in a steady stream. As documentation grows of the effects of language contact in the Americas, it is becoming ever clearer that exposure to languages with strong literary traditions has often had a significant impact on syntactic structure. Complexity is, however, not always due to literacy or contact with literacy. Here it is shown that though contact can indeed result in copied markers or replicated categories, it is not a precondition for the development of complexity.
The Seneca Amplification Construction
by Wallace Chafe (PDF - 350k)
The polysynthetic morphology of the Northern Iroquoian languages presents a challenge to studies of clause combining. The discussion here focuses on a Seneca construction that may appear within a single clause but may also straddle clause boundaries. It amplifies the information provided by a referent, here called the trigger, that is introduced by the pronominal prefix within a verb or occasionally in some other way. The particle neh signals that further information about that referent will follow. This construction is found at four levels of syntactic complexity. At the first level the trigger and its amplification occur within the same prosodic phrase and the amplification is a noun. At the second level the amplification occurs in a separate prosodic phrase but remains a noun. At the third level the amplification exhibits verb morphology but has been lexicalized with a nominal function. At the fourth level the amplification functions as a full clause and neh serves as a marker of clause combining. Several varieties of amplification are discussed, as are cases in which the speaker judges that no amplification is needed. It is suggested that the typologically similar Caddo language illustrates a situation in which this construction could never arise, simply because Caddo verbs lack the pronominal element that triggers the construction in Seneca.
Clause Combining in Otomi before and after contact with Spanish
by Dik Bakker and Ewald Hekking (PDF - 666k)
In this contribution, we explore two hypotheses with respect to clause combining. The first one is the assumption that languages with a mainly spoken tradition explicitly code clause relations, both coordination and subordination, to a lesser extent than languages with a long written tradition. And secondly, in case of contact between two such languages, with the latter one in a dominant position, and a sufficient level of bilingualism, we expect the former to borrow both types of relators, and increase the amount of explicit coding. We will investigate our hypotheses on the basis of Otomi, a native language from Mexico, and Spanish, the colonial language which became the official language of that country after its independence.
Degrees of clause cohesion: complementation and subordination in Chiapas Zoque
by Jan Terje Faarlund (PDF - 758k)
Zoque exhibits various degrees of interclausal cohesion or types of embedding: juxtapostion, use of conjunctions, subordination with complementizers, and synthetic subordination by head marking. These various types of subordination are used for different clause types, such as complement clauses, adverbial clauses, and relative clauses, and they are for the most part native and precolonial in origin. Relative clauses may be formed by external or internal relativization. The former type corresponds to constructions with a nominal head and a clausal modifier, where the relativized element inside the clause is invisible or represented by a relative pronoun. The latter type corresponds to constructions where the relativized element is overtly present inside the clause.
Acquiring complexity: the Portuguese of some Piraha Men
by Jeanette Sakel (PDF - 782k)
The Piraha language has been claimed to have no syntactic complexity. What happens when speakers of this language come into contact with another, more complex language? This paper reflects on the Portuguese used by a group of men of the Amazonian Piraha people.
My study shows that when speaking Portuguese, most Piraha speakers employ simple syntactic constructions, characterised by juxtaposition of main clauses rather than embedding. Yet, the more proficient speakers utilize constructions that on the surface look more complex. These involve Portuguese subordinating conjunctions and complement clauses, both instances that could be analysed as complex constructions. While the subordinating conjunctions can be explained in terms of transfer and discourse marking functions, one particular speaker uses a Portuguese complement clause that could be analysed as a syntactically intermediate structure between Piraha juxtaposition and Portuguese embedding.
Parataxis, hypotaxis and para-hypotaxis in the Zamucoan languages
by Pier Marco Bertinetto and Luca Ciucci (PDF - 877k)
The term "para-hypotaxis" is commonly used by Romance linguists to refer to sentences containing a proleptic dependent clause, with the main clause introduced by a coordinator. It is thus an intermediate structure between parataxis and hypotaxis; it should not be confused, however, with seemingly analogous phenomena, such as co-subordination. Traditionally considered as an idiosyncratic feature of the Old Romance languages (as well as Biblical Hebrew, Greek and Latin), para-hypotaxis has recently been discovered in at least one modern, genetically unrelated language (Swahili). This paper shows - with illustrations mostly stemming from the Zamucoan family (Ayoreo and Chamacoco) - that it is also widespread in several languages of the Chaco Boreal. The possible functional justifications of this peculiar syntactic phenomenon are discussed.
Switch-attention (aka switch-reference) in South-American temporal clauses: facilitating oral transmission
by Rik van Gijn (PDF - 714k)
Cultures without a written tradition depend entirely on the oral channel to transmit sometimes highly complex information. It is therefore not surprising that in the languages of such cultures linguistic devices evolve that enhance textual coherence, and thus comprehension. These devices should ideally also be economical in terms of morphosyntactic complexity in order to facilitate both production and comprehension. In this paper, I will argue that switch-attention (a term preferred over the traditional switch-reference) systems in temporal clauses fulfill these requirements of cohesion and complexity reduction, making them particularly apt for orally transmitting texts. Moreover, switch-reference systems seem to diffuse relatively easily. These features taken together are suggested to be (partly) responsible for the widely attested phenomenon in areas without a lengthy written tradition.
Volume 10, Issue 2 (2012)
The Domari Language of Aleppo (Syria)
by Bruno Herin (PDF - 1069k)
The goal of this paper is to shed light on an under-described variety of Domari, a very scarcely documented Indo-Aryan language spoken by the Dōm, who are often referred to as "the Middle-Eastern Gypsies". Described as an archaic Indo-Aryan language, Domari is known to the scholarly community from a limited number of word lists dating back to the 19th century and two partial descriptions based on a rather moribund dialect, the one spoken in Jerusalem. Apart from these sources, no reliable data are available about other varieties. The data presented in this paper come from an original field-work carried out in 2009 and 2010 amongst the Dōm community in the city of Aleppo in Northern Syria and are an important contribution to our knowledge of one of the very few old diasporic Indic languages spoken outside the Indian subcontinent.
Towards a Full Description of the Focus System in Tundra Yukaghir
by Mark Schmalz (PDF - 736k)
This paper is meant to be a contribution to a better understanding of the focus system of Tundra Yukaghir. It recapitulates the major findings that were made with respect to the topic discussed and presents a number of new empirical facts some of which contradict or form an essential addition to the preexisting views.
Persian Back Channel Responses in Formal versus Informal Contexts
by Shahla Sharifi and Mahnaz Azadmanesh (PDF - 432k)
Utterances like /xob/ (okay), /doroste/ (right), /hmm/, /ee/, /?re/ (yeah), occur frequently in Persian conversations, but have thus far escaped from the systematic studies. Good listeners generally produce these short utterances, called "back channel responses", in appropriate times to show their participation in the conversation, but the rules governing back channeling vary from one context to another. The usage of back channel responses is different in various contexts, due to politeness or formality. This paper studies the types and functions of the back channel responses in both formal and informal settings and provides a comparison of the usage of these responses in these two kinds of contexts. The results show /bale/ (yes) and /doroste/ (right) are used with formal or polite verbal form, while /xob/ (okay) is used with the informal style of speech and less polite verbal form. With respect to the function of back channels, signaling the understanding is the main function of back channels in informal contexts. Also, back channels signaling agreement are more frequent in formal contexts, where emotional function is less likely.
Phonological sketch and classification of Lawu, an undocumented Ngwi language of Yunnan
by Cathryn Yang (PDF - 1696k)
Lawu is a severely endangered, undocumented Ngwi (Loloish) language spoken in Yunnan, China. This paper presents a preliminary sketch of Lawu phonology based on lexico-phonetic data recorded from two speakers in 2008, with special attention to the tone splits and mergers that distinguish Lawu from other Ngwi languages. All tone categories except Proto-Ngwi Tone *3, a mid level pitch, have split, conditioned by the voicing of the initial segment. In the conditioning and effect of these tone splits, Lawu shows affinity with other Central Ngwi languages such as Lisu and Lahu and is provisionally classified as a Central Ngwi language.
The Effect of Accessibility on Language Vitality: The Ishkashimi and the Sanglechi Speech Varieties in Afghanistan
by Simone Beck (PDF - 2059k)
This paper presents a sociolinguistic assessment of the Ishkashimi
and Sanglechi speech varieties based on data collected during a survey conducted
between July 21st and July 29th 2007 in the Ishkashim area
and the Sanglech valley. The research was carried out under the auspices of the
International Assistance Mission, a Non-Government Organization working in
Afghanistan. The goal was to determine whether Dari, one of the two national
languages, is adequate to be used in literature and primary school education, or
whether the Ishkashimi and the Sanglechi people would benefit from language
development, including literature development and primary school education in
the vernacular. It was important to find out how closely the two speech
varieties, Ishkashimi and Sanglechi, are related to determine whether one
written form would suffice for both varieties, in case language development is
deemed to be necessary.
The researchers administered sociolinguistic and village elder
questionnaires, elicited word lists, tested mutual intelligibility of Ishkashimi
and Sanglechi, and observed and asked about bilingualism in Dari. In this way
they aimed to determine the domains of language use, the attitude towards the
other speech variety and Dari, to investigate bilingualism in Dari, and
intelligibility between Ishkashimi and Sanglechi.
Sanglechi was found to be unintelligible to the Ishkashimi speakers.
However, Ishkashimi is more intelligible to Sanglechi speakers.
The Ishkashimi speak Dari and their vernacular at home and in the
community; in all other domains they primarily speak Dari. All Sanglechi speak
only their vernacular in their homes and in the community. They speak Dari and
some Sanglechi with guests, when travelling outside the area, with government
officials, in school and in the religious domain. School is the only domain that
exposes girls and young women to Dari; older women have virtually no contact
In both places, people display a positive attitude towards Dari.
Both language groups show a positive attitude towards their own vernacular.
However, the Ishkashimi look down on Sanglechi as a rural language, while the
Sanglechi consider Ishkashimi to be a good language. There is a growing
awareness among the Ishkashimi, especially the educated, that they may lose
their language if they continue not speaking it to their children. However,
Sanglechi is very vital.
Bilingualism with Dari is high among the Ishkashimi while it is very
low in significant segments of the Sanglechi people. Therefore literature in
Dari currently cannot serve the Sanglechi adequately, while it does serve the
Ishkashimi people at present.
Considering the high vitality of Sanglechi and the speakers' low
degree of bilingualism with Dari a language development project for the
Sanglechi people is recommended. It should include a contribution to the
Ishkashimi speech variety as they develop a growing awareness of the
endangerment of their language. Besides this, it might be possible to extend
such efforts to the Ishkashimi speakers in Tajikistan as well.
Volume 10, Issue 3 (2012)
Referential Effects on the Expression of Three-Participant Events across Languages - An Introduction in Memory of Anna Siewierska
by Eva van Lier (PDF - 726k)
Introduction to special issue on Referential Effects on the Expression of Three-Participant Events across Languages
The Effects of Referential Factors in Mojeno Trinitario Derived and Non-Derived Ditransitive Verbs
by Françoise Rose (PDF - 607k)
This paper investigates the effects of
referential factors (more specifically the person hierarchy) in non-derived and
derived three-participant constructions of Mojeno Trinitario, an Arawak
language of Bolivia. The basic effect of referential properties in the
three-participant constructions is that only one object may be indexed on the
verb, and it is has to be a speech act participant. Referential factors thus
indirectly create a competition between the two non-agentive arguments for the
object status. The person value of the two non-agentive arguments is thus
conditioning a construction alternation between a double-object and an
indirective alignment based on a semantic role hierarchy P / T > R / Causee.
Differences along four tests of objecthood can be observed among the three types
of three-participant constructions (ditransitive verb 'give', causativized and
applicative-marked monotransitive roots). The clearest conclusion is that
derived ditransitive verbs do not behave like non-derived three-participant
Ditransitive Alignment in Yakima Sahaptin
by Joana Jansen (PDF - 721k)
The grammatical coding of monotransitive and ditransitive clauses in Sahaptin (Plateau Penutian) demonstrates sensitivity to a range of factors, including animacy, person, topicality and number. The language over-codes participants throughout transitive paradigms, violating principles of economy in both flagging and indexing patterns. For example, a third person agent argument of any monotransitive or ditransitive verb may be case marked in one of three ways, depending on the properties of other participants. In this paper I discuss the categories of ditransitive clauses and describe the multiple ditransitive alignment patterns in the Yakima dialect of Sahaptin.
Referential Hierarchies in Three-Participant Constructions in Blackfoot: The Effects of Animacy, Person, and Specificity
by Lena Russell, Inge Genee, Eva van Lier and Fernando Zúñiga (PDF - 914k)
This paper discusses alignment patterns in three-participant constructions in Blackfoot (Western Algonquian; Canada, USA). We demonstrate the effects of referential hierarchies relating to animacy, person and specificity. Blackfoot verbs stem are subcategorized for transitivity and the animacy of S (for intransitives) and P(atient), R(ecipient), T(heme), or B(eneficiary) (for (di)transitives), showing crossreference with at most two participants. Nonspecific participants are never crossreferenced, resulting in the possibility of constructions with three or even four participants, only one of which is crossreferenced on the verb. Even when all participants in a three-participant construction are specific, only two can be crossreferenced on the verb: the A and what is generally called the ‘primary object’ in Algonquian studies (T, R or B depending on the specific stem in question). Any remaining participants are not crossreferenced on the verb, irrespective of their specificity status. Whether T, R or B is chosen to be the primary object is lexically determined by the verbal stem, and more in particular by the so-called ‘final’, a derivational morpheme which closes every verb stem in Blackfoot. While Algonquian languages are often thought to display only secundative alignment, in line with the overwhelming importance of animacy in their grammars, we show that some stems require indirective alignment, while others allow for both configurations. Cross-referencing of A and B occurs as a result of applicativization with a benefactive final, which downgrades any potentially present T and/or R participants to noncrossreferenced objects. Finally, Blackfoot allows for a form of marking additional participants by a preverbal element called a ‘relative root’, which licenses a participant without influencing crossreferencing patterns and without indicating the specificity or animacy of the licensed participant.
The Expression of Three-Participant Events in Movima
by Katharina Haude (PDF - 570k)
In Movima (isolate, Amazonian
Bolivia), the structure of transitive clauses is determined by referential
properties of the core arguments: the encoding of an argument depends on the
relative position of its referent on a referential hierarchy. Movima has no
ditransitive constructions. Three-participant events are expressed by
monotransitive clauses, with one of the non-Agent participants having the status
of an argument and the other that of an adjunct. In three-participant clauses
there are no reference effects, i.e., there is no competition for argument
status between the two non-Agent participants based on their relative
referential properties. Instead, the choice of which non-Agent participant is
encoded as an argument and which as an adjunct is determined by the lexical or
derivational properties of the predicate.
Ditransitive Alignment and Referential Hierarchies in Araki
by Alexandre François (PDF - 838k)
Since Bossong (1985), referential hierarchies have proven useful in
accounting for patterns of differential object marking (DOM) in
mono‑transitive clauses. More recent studies (Siewierska 1998; Haspelmath
2005; Bickel 2008; papers in this volume) have also shown the relevance of such
hierarchies in explaining the alignment patterns of ditransitive verbs –
that is, how languages treat formally the Theme and the recipient or Goal.
Araki, a highly endangered Oceanic language of Vanuatu, not only shows DOM with
its transitive verbs, but is also sensitive to referential properties of
arguments in its handling of ditransitive alignment. On a hierarchy defined by
the features [±local] (i.e. speech-act participant) and [±human], the
higher-ranking participant receives the status of object, while the other one is
demoted to a peripheral role. The result is a pattern of regular alternation
between indirective and secundative alignment, depending on the relative
properties of the Theme and the Goal. The present article will describe these
patterns, and discuss cases of variation. Ultimately, rules of ditransitive
alignment in Araki can be explained functionally as a competition between
non-agent participants on a scale of affectedness.
Referential Hierarchies in Three-Participant Constructions in Vera'a
by Stefan Schnell (PDF - 725k)
This paper explores the relevance of referential hierarchies for different types of three-participant constructions in Vera'a, an endangered Oceanic language of
North Vanuatu. In Vera’a, animacy, information structure and referential
status of discourse participants interact in complex ways to influence the
realization of goals/recipients in two different types of construction that both
exhibit indirective argument alignment. The choice between a prepositional and a
possessive-like construction is determined by semantic factors, namely whether a
caused motion or a caused possession interpretation is intended. Referential
hierarchies are relevant for the choice of referential expression for theme and
goal/recipient argument, and these different types of expression are amenable
for different positions in each type of three-participant construction. Word
order variation does, however, not bring about a change of alignment which is
indirective in all possible constructional variants. This is even true for cases
where a pronominal recipient argument is incorporated into the verbal predicate,
resembling the realization of pronominal P arguments.
Referential Hierarchy Effects in Yakkha Three-Participant Constructions
by Diana Schackow (PDF - 959k)
Yakkha (Kiranti language family, Nepal) has several constructions
where speech act participants (SAP) and third persons are not treated alike.
Such effects are found in the treatment of agents and patients of
two-participant constructions, but also in the treatment of theme and goal
arguments of three-participant constructions. This paper explores the
referentiality effects on case marking and verbal agreement of theme and goal
arguments. Crucially, most effects are scenario-based, i.e. they are conditioned
not only by the properties of one argument, but by the relation between theme
and goal. Besides the distinction between SAP and third person, the animacy of
arguments can play a role, so that the argument realization in one construction
is often conditioned by an interplay of several factors. Apart from alternations
in case and agreement, Yakkha exhibits a serialization pattern that is related
to an atypically high animacy of theme arguments. After analyzing these
alternations and their conditions, the paper discusses how the findings match
predictions that have been made about argument realization in three-participant
'Give' Constructions in the Papuan Languages of Timor-Alor-Pantar
by Marian Klamer and Antionette Schapper (PDF - 987k)
This paper describes three-participant ‘give’
constructions in ten Papuan languages of the Timor-Alor-Pantar (TAP) family.
Generally lacking a class of simple ditransitive root verbs, TAP languages
express ‘give’ events by means of biclausal constructions
(‘take X then give Y’), serial verb constructions (‘take X
give Y’), or particle-verb constructions originating in serial verb
constructions. In this paper, we focus on the syntactic treatment of the gift
(T), since it, unlike the other participants in ‘give’
constructions, displays considerable diversity across the TAP languages. Through
the study of the synchronic variation in TAP ‘give’ constructions,
we reconstruct the syntactic constructions from which the various modern
constructions have developed, and sketch the grammaticalization paths that have
led to them.
A Corpus Study of Mexican Spanish Three-Participant Constructions with and without Clitic Doubling
by Chiyo Nishida (PDF - 726k)
In Spanish verbs associated with three participants –
Agent, Theme and Recipient – may appear in alternating constructions,
where the 3rd person recipient argument is realized as a
prepositional phrase (PP) (Pedro envió una carta
‘Peter sent a letter to Mary’) or as one doubled by a clitic (Pedro
le envió una carta
a María ‘Pedro sent Mary a
letter’), the latter being referred to as an indirect object (IO). This
paper provides a corpus-based study of the distributional patterns of the two
constructions that includes both give-type and send-type verbs. The analysis of
PPs and IOs in terms of referential properties shows that both have a strong
tendency to be [+definite]. However, the distribution of the IO is more
constrained than the PPs in terms of certain referential properties, although
there are some lexical differences observed among the verbs. The PP, on the
other hand, is free of any restrictions. One important contribution of this
study is that it provides empirical evidence that the IO associated with the
role of Recipient behaves very differently from the one assuming other roles:
clitic doubling, which has become the norm for the latter, is still very
restricted for the former, contrary to what has been commonly assumed.
Volume 11, Issue 1 (2013)
Samoan root phonotactics: Digging deeper into the data
by John Alderete and Mark Bradshaw (PDF - 771k)
This article gives a detailed quantitative account of Samoan root phonotactics. In particular, count data is given in eleven tables of segment frequencies (i.e., consonants, short and long vowels, diphthongs) and frequencies of combinations of segments (i.e., syllable types, consonant-vowel combinations, V-V and C-C combinations across syllables). Systematic patterns of over- and under-representation of these structures in the lexicon are documented and related to prior research. Beyond the detailed frequency facts presented here, new empirical patterns documented include positional preferences for bilabials and non-labial sonorants, extensions of a known pattern of gradient vowel assimilation, and identification of a role for manner and segment order in consonant co-occurrence restrictions.
The Optional Use of Morphological Case
by Sander Lestrade (PDF - 537k)
This paper provides a unified account of construction alternations in which case markers are involved, extending the traditional focus on the differential use of core case markers (DCM). Using an Optimality Theoretic framework, it is argued that the optional use of morphological case can be explained by the interaction of an economy and cooperativeness principle.
Object Markers in Ikalanga
by Rose Letsholo (PDF - 676k)
There is an on-going debate amongst linguists regarding the status of the object marker (OM). Some scholars argue that OMs are agreement morphology (Baker 2010, Riedel 2009) while others argue that OMs are pronominal and not agreement morphology (Nevins 2010, Kramer, under review, Labelle 2007, Demuth and Johnson 1990, Mchombo 2002). The purpose of this paper is to contribute to this debate using data from Ikalanga to support the view that OMs are pronominal clitics. I discuss evidence in favor of the agreement analysis as well as that in favor of the pronominal analysis. OMs in Ikalanga behave like agreement morphology in that they attach only to the verbal stem, only one OM occurs in a clause, and they share grammatical features (person, gender and number) with the lexical NP with which they co-refer. However, there are many ways in which OMs behave like pronominals. For example, OMs do not vary in form according to the mood of a sentence or negation while subject markers, which I analyze as agreement morphemes do. They are not obligatory in Ikalanga sentences while subject markers are. OMs are not subject to locality constraints while agreement is. They can be bound by the subject (backward pronominalization), something unexpected of agreement and there is ample evidence to show that the lexical NP with which the OM co-refers is an adjunct, a fact which has been used in the literature to argue that the OM is pronominal in such a set up. The evidence in favor of the pronominal analysis however, is more compelling and therefore I conclude that OMs are pronominal clitics and not agreement morphology.
Notes from the Field:
A Sociolinguistic Assessment of the Darwazi Speech Variety in Afghanistan
by Simone Beck and Daniela Beyer (PDF - 2189k)
This paper presents a sociolinguistic assessment of the Darwāzi speech varieties (including Tangshewi) based on data collected during a survey conducted between August 31st and September 19th 2008 in the Darwāz area. The research was carried out under the auspices of the International Assistance Mission, a Non-Governmental Organization working in Afghanistan. The goal was to determine whether Dari, one of the two national languages, is adequate to be used in literature and primary school education, or whether the Darwāzi people would benefit from language development, including literature development and primary school education in the vernacular.
Notes on Kalkoti: A Shina Language with Strong Kohistani Influences
by Henrik Liljegren (PDF - 868k)
This paper presents some novel and hard-to-access data from Kalkoti, an Indo-Aryan language spoken in northern Pakistan. The particular focus is on showing how this Shina variety in a relatively short time span has drifted apart from its closest known genealogical relatives and undergone significant linguistic convergence with a Kohistani variety in whose vicinity Kalkoti is presently spoken. Among other features, we explore what seems like an ongoing process of tonogenesis as well as structural ?copying? in the realm of tense and aspect.
Volume 12, Issue 1 (2014)
Serial Verbs in Finnish
by Solveiga Armoskaite and Päivi Koskinen (PDF - 521k)
Serial verb construction (SVC) phenomena pose challenges to
descriptivists and theoreticians alike (Newmayer 2004, Aikhenvald & Dixon
2006, among many others). One recurring question is whether SVC is a language
specific characteristic (cf. Stewart 2001) or whether it is a universally
available construction utilized under specific conditions (cf. Dechaine
1993, Newmayer 2004, Muysken & Veenstra 2006). This study contributes to the
debate with evidence from Finnish (Uralic language family), which has not
previously been analyzed as a serializing language (contra Jarva &
Kytola 2007). Based on distributional facts as well as semantic and
syntactic characteristics, we argue that the so called 'colorative
construction' in Finnish is a SVC.
Work on Endangered Languages
by Lindsay J. Whaley (PDF - 499k)
This paper makes three basic claims. First, the Linguistic Society of America, through the research agenda of its members, has been involved with the study of endangered languages from the society?s inception. Second, in some notable ways, that research agenda has not changed dramatically in the past 90 years. Third, there have been enhancements to that agenda which reflect broader changes in the field of linguistics, most obviously a broader global focus in research on minority languages and a greater degree of theorizing about the process of language shift. These enhancement get reflected in a variety of ways, not least in some organizational changes to the Linguistic Society of America.
Sui Adjective Modifiers
by James N. Stanford (PDF - 505k)
Sui is a Tai-Kadai language of southwest China with an elaborate system of adjective modifiers, including modifiers that rhyme with their base adjectives. The onsets of these rhyming modifiers show patterns which are not fully predictable, but they fall within a certain range of morphophonological possibilities.
Volume 12, Issue 2 (2014)
Arguments and Adjuncts Cross-Linguistically: A Brief Introduction
by Søren Wichmann (PDF - 263k)
Introduction to the special issue on arguments and adjuncts.
Arguments and Adjuncts as Language-Particular Syntactic Categories and as Comparative Concepts
by Martin Haspelmath (PDF - 577k)
In this short paper, I point out that there is a discrepancy between the widespread assumption that "argument" and "adjunct" should be seen as cross-linguistic categories and the practice of providing language-particular tests for the distinction. Language-particular criteria yield language-particular categories, which cannot be readily compared across languages. I discuss a possible distinguishing criterion (the pro-verb test) that might work cross-linguistically, though I also note that it may not be universally applicable. Finally I note that fortunately, the most important typological differences between languages concern the coding of participants regardless of their status as arguments or adjuncts, so that comparative concepts of argument and adjunct may not be so important for cross-linguistic comparison.
Emai's Variable Coding of Adjuncts
by Ronald P. Schaefer and Francis O. Egbokhare (PDF - 425k)
This paper examines the morphosyntactic character of clauses containing adjuncts in Emai (Edoid and West Benue Congo). In clauses differing as to discourse function, adjunct coding is variable. Some adjunct types are consistently structured as either head of a phrase or complement in a phrase headed by a verb. Other adjuncts are coded more variably. In canonical declarative clauses, they appear in postverbal position unmarked by a verb, but in one or more noncanonical clause types, their clause requires a verb otherwise latent. Resulting patterns are assessed from a perspective in Croft (2001), where adjuncts are relations with their matrix clause as argument.
A Canonical Approach to the Argument/Adjunct Distinction
by Diana Forker (PDF - 673k)
This paper provides an account of the argument/adjunct distinction implementing the 'canonical approach'. I identify five criteria (obligatoriness, latency, co-occurrence restrictions, grammatical relations, and iterability) and seven diagnostic tendencies that can be used to distinguish canonical arguments from canonical adjuncts. I then apply the criteria and tendencies to data from the Nakh-Daghestanian language Hinuq. Hinuq makes extensive use of spatial cases for marking adjunct-like and argument-like NPs. By means of the criteria and tendencies it is possible to distinguish spatial NPs that come close to canonical arguments from those that are canonical adjuncts, and to place the remaining NPs bearing spatial cases within the argument-adjunct continuum.
Cross-Linguistic Variation in the Treatment of Beneficiaries and the Argument vs. Adjunct Distinction
by Denis Creissels (PDF - 585k)
This paper compares the expression of beneficiaries with that of typical arguments and typical adjuncts in a sample of languages illustrating the variation in the extent to which NPs encoding beneficiaries show a syntactic behavior more or less similar to that of typical arguments or typical adjuncts. The observations support the position according to which semantic argumenthood as a comparative concept must be distinguished from its possible syntactic correlates, and must be defined as a scalar rather than categorical concept reflecting the interaction between the various factors that may contribute to defining the degree of involvement of participants in an event.
Locative-Related Roles and the Argument-Adjunct Distinction in Balinese
by I Wayan Arka (PDF - 1515k)
This paper uses the realisation of locative-related roles in Balinese to show that there is no clear-cut distinction between arguments and adjuncts, supporting the gradient nature of grammatical functions (cf. Croft 2001; Langacker 1987; Aarts 2007). It argues that argumenthood is not wholly a property of a lexical head predicate and that a purely lexically based projectionist approach to syntactic argument structures cannot be maintained. It also explores the effect that the interplay between relevant properties of locatives has on their recruitability as arguments, and a novel argument-index analysis is proposed as a means to distinguish adjuncts from arguments. The analysis makes use of both general and language-specific morphosyntactic and morphosemantic tests.
Investigation of locative-related roles reveals that certain properties determine their status in the argument-adjunct continuum: thematic, individuated and animate locatives are more argument-like than non-thematic, inanimate and general deictic locatives (in line with Kittila 2007, 2008; Peterson 2007). Interplay between these properties is shown to affect argument recruitment in Balinese, based on the value of the argument index for a given locative-related role. More generally, there also is evidence that languages vary in whether they allow true adjuncts to be recruited as arguments at all.
Volume 13, Issue 1 (2015)
The Mao and Komo Languages in the Begi – Tongo area in Western Ethiopia: Classification, Designations, and Distribution
by Klaus-Christian Küspert (PDF - 9592k)
This survey endeavours through field research along with a critical review of relevant literature to shed some light on the complicated socio-linguistic and language-geographic situation in the Begi–Tongo area in Western Ethiopia, and to suggest a more consequent use of relevant terminology. It strives for a clear distinction between ethnic and linguistic description, provides detailed language maps and proposes terms based on linguistic comparative word lists and sociolinguistic questionnaires. The findings of this study may function as a basis for further discussion and contribute to the more purposeful linguistic and social development of the concerned people groups and the area.
Surveying Patterns of Noun Plural in Jibbāli
by Khalsa al-Aghbari (PDF - 538k)
In Jibbāli, noun plurals exhibit two types of plural markers with numerous phonological alternations. There are nouns with explicit plural suffixes, nouns with internal change, plurals with a suffix and change combined, nouns taking a template and plurals with two suffixes combined. Due to Jibbāli's phonological peculiarities affecting the plural, proliferation in plural patterns is expected. For example, a deleted b in a singular decides to reoccur in the plural, assigning a distinct plural pattern. Being in contact with Arabic, due to physical proximity, Jibbāli borrowed internal plural forms from Arabic and imposed intriguing alternations into them,. For example, Jibbāli's Vb infixed plurals historically derive from the Arabic plural infix -wa:-. This is another reason for the multiplicity of plural patterns in the language. Jibbāli plurality is also characterized by doubly and triply marked plurals. For example, some Jibbāli singular forms take double plural markers (i.e. suffixation and Vb infixation together or two suffixes consecutively following one another).This study is a linguistic attempt to document the diverse patterns of noun plurals in Jibbāli, a critically understudied language in the literature to date. It uncovers plural patterns that are unique to the language, revealing historical and phonetic affiliations to Arabic, Modern South Arabian and Semitic.
Notes from the Field:
Volume 13, Issue 2 (2015)
Volume 14, Issue 1 (2016)
Relative Clauses in Upper Necaxa Totonac: Local, Comparative, and Diachronic Perspectives
by David Beck (PDF - 9762k)
Relativization strategies in the Totonacan family are largely undescribed, but detailed examination of one of the languages in the group, Upper Necaxa Totonac, reveals the presence of both externally- and internally-headed relative constructions. Also of note is the presence of relativizers that mark the animacy (human/non-human) of the head of the relative construction. This paper will show that, while phylogenetic evidence clearly demonstrates the relativizers to be descended diachronically from interrogative pronouns, they are best treated syn-chronically as complementizers, an analysis that follows directly from the presence of internally-headed relative constructions.
Exploring Grammatical Complexity Crosslinguistically
by Francesca Di Garbo (PDF - 1138k)
This paper proposes a set of principles and methodologies for the crosslinguistic investigation of grammatical complexity and applies them to the in-depth study of one grammatical domain, gender. The complexity of gender is modeled on the basis of crosslinguistically documented properties of gender systems and by taking into consideration interactions between gender and two other grammatical domains: nominal number and evaluative morphology. The study proposes a complexity metric for gender that consists of six features: “Gender values”, “Assignment rules”, “Number of indexation (agreement) domains”, “Cumulative exponence of gender and number”, “Manipulation of gender assignment triggered by number/countability”, and “Manipulation of gender assignment triggered by size”. The metric is tested on a sample of 84 African languages, organized in subsamples of genealogically related languages. The results of the investigation show that: (1) the gender systems of the sampled languages lean towards high complexity scores; (2) languages with purely semantic gender assignment tend to lack pervasive gender indexation; (3) languages with a high number of gender distinctions tend to exhibit pervasive gender indexation; (4) some of the uses of manipulable gender assignment are only attested in languages with a high number of gender distinctions and/or pervasive indexation. With respect to the distribution of the gender complexity scores, the results show that genealogically related languages tend to have the same or similar gender complexity scores. Languages that display exceedingly low or high gender complexity scores when compared with closely related languages exhibit distinctive sociolinguistic profiles (contact, bi- or multilingualism). The implications of these findings for the typology of gender systems and the crosslinguistic study of grammatical complexity and its distribution are discussed.
A Phonology of Ganza (Gwàmi Nánà)
by Joshua Smolders (PDF - 11653k)
Ganza is a previously undescribed Omotic language of the Mao subgroup, and is the only Omotic language found primarily outside of Ethiopia. This paper presents the results of nearly a year of phonological fieldwork on Ganza in the form of a descriptive phonology. Included are presentations of the consonant and vowel phonemes, syllable structure and phonotactics, notable morphophonemic processes, and an overview of the tone system. Some interesting features of the phonology highlighted in this paper include the existence of a nasalizing glottal stop phoneme, lack of phonemic vowel length, a lexically determined vocalic alternation between ja~e, and the existence of "construct melodies" in the tone system. Given that both Omotic languages in general and especially the Mao subfamily are understudied, this paper provides much-needed data and analysis for the furtherance of Omotic linguistics.
Volume 15, Issue 1 (2017)
Non-structural case marking in Tibeto-Burman and artificial languages
by Alexander R. Coupe and Sander Lestrade (PDF - 1564k)
This paper discusses the diachronic development of non-structural case marking in Tibeto-Burman and in computer simulations of language evolution. It is shown how case marking is initially motivated by the pragmatic need to disambiguate between two core arguments, but eventually may develop flagging functions that even extend into the intransitive domain. Also, it is shown how different types of case-marking system may emerge from various underlying disambiguation strategies.
The influence of non-linguistic factors on the usage of the pre-prefix in Luguru
by Malin Petzell and Karoline Kühl (PDF - 288k)
This article discusses the impact of linguistic and non-linguistic factors on the use of the pre-prefix in an under-described Bantu language spoken in Tanzania. The pre-prefix, also referred to as the augment, is a morpheme related to givenness in many Bantu languages. We will explore its use in Luguru, which is spoken in the Morogoro region in Tanzania. Certain groups of Luguru speakers use the pre-prefix much more than others, and its use seems to vary according to social settings. We present a sociolinguistic analysis of the contexts where the pre-prefix can appear, including attitudes and social factors, taking into account the situation of intense language contact between Luguru and the dominating language Swahili, where the pre-prefix is non-existent. Not much has been published on Luguru overall, and this is the first study of the pre-prefix. Moreover, it is, to our knowledge, the first work taking social factors into account in analysing the pre-prefix in Bantu in general.
Optional or Syntactic Ergativity in Shawi: Distribution and Possible Origins
by Luis Miguel Rojas-Berscia and Corentin Bourdeau (PDF - 465k)
In this article we provide a preliminary description and analysis of the most common ergative constructions in Shawi, a Kawapanan language spoken in Northwestern Amazonia. We offer a comparison with its sister language, Shiwilu, for which an optional ergativity marking pattern has been claimed (Valenzuela, 2008, 2011). There is not enough evidence, however, to claim the exact same for Shawi. Ergativity in the language is driven by mere syntactic motivations. One of the most common constituent orders in the language where the ergative marker is obligatory is OAV. We close the article with a tentative proposal on the passive origins of OAV ergative constructions in the language, via a by-phrase-like incorporation, and eventual grammaticalisation, resorting to the formal syntactic theory known as Semantic Syntax (Seuren, 1996).
Analysing case in spoken language: A corpus study on East Franconian dialects
by Sophie Ellsäßer (PDF - 721k)
Due to phonological and morphological processes, there has been an excessive reduction of case forms in the development of the German case system. Thus, syncretism is frequently found in Standard German and even more so in German dialects, where the process of case levelling is more advanced. In this sense, analysing dialects permits a diachronic perspective on German case systems since they show a more innovative behaviour compared to Standard German. Nevertheless, little research has been done on German dialectal case systems to date. This paper presents the method and initial results of a usage-based corpus study of case marking systems in East Franconian dialects, their interaction with animacy and their involvement in argument marking. One of the main issues of the study is the frequency of syncretic patterns which builds a basis for a comparative measurement of similarity between dialectal systems. This paper discusses a method of quantifying case distinctivity by relating it to a canonical system of case distinctions. The initial results of the study as well as the influence of syncretic case marking on argument marking will be discussed.
Notes from the Field: