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.