[Lingtyp] 24th ICHL Canberra - Workshop on trends in inflection
eugen.hill at uni-koeln.de
eugen.hill at uni-koeln.de
Tue Jul 17 05:03:27 EDT 2018
Dear friends and colleagues,
if you are planning to attend the 24th International Conference on
Historical Linguistics in Canberra next summer, please take a look at
the proposal of a workshop on diachronic trends in inflection, which
we would like to organize there (s. below).
If you find the topic interesting, it would be wonderful if you
participate in our workshop with a talk. If you can imagine that,
please notify us possibly soon, we have to submit our application
(which should include five key-note speakers) by July 29th. At the
moment we would only need a provisional title.
We also would very much appreciate it if you spread a word about the
workshop among your colleagues and collaborators working on diachrony
Many thanks in advance and the best whishes,
Eugen Hill (Cologne) & Paul Widmer (Zurich)
eugen.hill at uni-koeln.de
paul.widmer at uzh.ch
<<TRENDS IN THE DEVELOPMENT AND EVOLUTION OF INFLECTION
It is well known that in the development and subsequent evolution of
inflection cross-linguistically recurrent patterns can be identified.
Several patterns are robust enough to justify being called “trend”.
The most well-known trends are, for instance, the following:
• inflection trapped between the stem of a word and a former
clitic tends to secondarily relocate toward a word-external position
(so-called “externalization of inflection”, cf. Haspelmath 1993,
Harris & Faarlund 2006, García-Castillero 2013),
• conjugation patterns containing bound person-indexes tend to
restructure on the basis of the 3rd person secondarily reanalysed as
the bare stem (cf. so-called “Watkins’s law”, cf. most recently Miller
• languages tend to abandon very short inflectional forms of
nouns, pronouns and verbs either by replacing such forms with
compounds or by tolerating defectiveness (cf. Strunk 1987).
The aim of the proposed workshop is to improve our present-day
understanding of such cross-linguistic trends in the development and
evolution of inflection by describing more trends and identifying the
determinants which may be responsible for such trends.
To achieve this, the workshop will address the following particular
issues resp. research questions.
-- Can more cross-linguistically recurrent patterns in development and
evolution of inflection be discovered? How to look for them in a
principled resp. systematic way?
In recent times more diachronic trends in inflection have been
proposed (cf. Maiden 2004 on replication of suppletion in verbs and
Hill 2015 in pronouns, Jacques & Antonov 2015 on direct/inverse
systems in conjugation). All such trends have been discovered by means
of directly looking into the development of languages either
descending from a documented common ancestor (such as Latin in the
case of Romance languages) or being closely related, thus allowing for
a “shallow” reconstruction of an undocumented common ancestor (such as
Proto-Slavic in the case of Slavic languages). The obvious advantage
of this approach is the control over both the starting-point and the
end-point of the relevant processes. Its disadvantage is the amount of
information about the relevant languages which is needed for such an
investigation. Is it possible to infer typological trends in the
evolution of inflection from other sources, such as the synchronic
cross-linguistic distribution of inflectional patterns? How to design
an appropriate investigation?
-- Can trends be used for establishing uncommon or rare patterns of
change? How to deal with conflicting trends?
Describing trends in inflection helps to structure the evidence in a
way facilitating a more comprehensive investigation of inflectional
change in the relevant domain. So, the description of externalization
of inflection has led to the recent discovery of its rare opposite,
i.e. secondary inflection emerging between constituents of
morphologically complex words (cf. Majer 2015). On the back-ground of
the Watkins’s law discussion, a rare case of a development towards a
system with zero-index in the 2sg. has been described (cf. Grossman
2016). Can more uncommon patterns of change be discovered? How to look
for them in a more comprehensive resp. more systematic way?
At least in one case the data imply two trends running in opposite
directions and possibly cancelling each other out in particular
languages. In the case of bound person-indexes on verbs, the
well-known transformations according to Watkins’s law imply a
cross-linguistic trend toward a zero-index in the 3rd person
contrasting with overt indexes in the 1st and 2nd persons. At the same
time, taking into consideration the most common diachronic source of
bound person-indexes on verbs, i.e. free standing personal pronouns,
seems to reveal the opposite trend toward overtly indexing also for
3rd person. The source in question frequently generates indexing
patterns lacking an overt person-index for 3rd person (cf. Bybee 1988,
Siewierska 2010, Cristofaro 2013). A clear synchronic preference for
overt indexes in all three persons (cf. Siewierska 2010, Bickel et al.
2015) speaks in favour of a wide-spread secondary filling of the empty
slot in the 3rd person, which implies a cross-linguistic trend in the
opposite direction. Do other trends in inflection also possess a
counter-part running into the opposite direction? How to identify such
a trend in a particular case?
-- What are the factors responsible for trends in the development and
evolution of inflection? What are the possible patterns of interaction
between these factors?
It seems established that trends in the development and evolution of
inflection partly imply a well-defined target- or goal-construction
and partly seem to depend on the cross-linguistically common sources
of the structure in question. Thus, the Watkins’s law transformations
of inflectional patterns in verbs seem to imply a target in form of a
pattern with a 3rd person equalling the bare stem (cf. Koch 1995). By
contrast, the trends toward particular forms of differential case or
number marking in nouns seem to depend on the original semantics of
the diachronic sources established for the relevant markers (cf.
Cristofaro 2013, 2014). The data indicate, therefore, that both
goal-oriented and source-determined trends in the evolution of
inflection have to be assumed for natural languages.
The question which remains to be answered is as to what may be the
possible determinants of goal-oriented changes or what may define the
goal? An obvious factor is areal pressure, i.e. a goal-oriented change
may target a structure present in a neighbouring language (cf. Janse
2009 for Watkins’s law transformation in Cappadocian Greek). A second
possible factor might be the structural pressure from within the
system in question itself (cf. Maiden 2004, Hill 2015 on suppletion).
The third possible factor may be constituted by synchronic cognitive
or functional preferences which define structures more suitable for
processing information (cf. the natural morphology tradition such as
in Dressler et al. 1987, van Loon 2005, in a similar vein recently
Plank 2016 and, with general discussion, Haspelmath 2017, 2018).
It is important to identify evidence helpful for establishing which
factors may be at work in the case of each particular diachronic trend
and what are the possible patterns of interaction between these
factors. This amounts to the following questions. Which kind of
evidence may be instrumental in distinguishing between goal-oriented
and source-determined developments? Which evidence may help to
identify the synchronic cognitive or functional preferences and to
distinguish them from recurrent patterns of change due to structural
pressure from within or without the system?
The workshop welcomes papers dealing with the above stated questions
from both the theoretical and the empirical perspective. Case studies
on particular trends are as welcome as papers offering new
Bickel, Balthasar, Alena Witzlack-Makarevich, Taras Zakharko & Giorgio
Iemmolo. 2015. Exploring diachronic universals of agreement: Alignment
patterns and zero marking across person categories. In: Fleischer,
Jürg, Elisabeth Rieken & Paul Widmer (eds.). Agreement from a
Diachronic Perspective. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton. 29–51.
Bybee, Joan. 1988. The diachronic dimension in explanation. In:
Hawkins, John A. (ed.). Explaining Language Universals. Oxford:
Cristofaro, Sonia. 2013. The referential hierarchy: reviewing the
evidence in diachronic perspective. In: Bakker Dik & Martin Haspelmath
(eds.). Language across Boundaries. Studies in memory of Anna
Siewierska. Berlin: de Gruyter Mouton. 69–93.
Cristofaro, Sonia. 2014. Competing motivation models and diachrony.
What evidence for what motivations? In: MacWhinney, Brian, Andrej
Malchukov & Edith Moravcsik (eds.). Competing Motivations in Grammar
and Usage. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dressler, Wolfgang U. et al. 1987. Leitmotifs in Natural Morphology.
García-Castillero, Carlos. 2013. Morphological externalisation and the
Old Irish verbal particle ro. Transactions of the Philological Society
Grossman, Eitan. 2016. From rarum to rarissimum. An unexpected zero
person marker. Linguistic Typology 20. 1–23.
Harris, Alice C. & Jan T. Faarlund. 2006. Trapped morphology. Journal
of Linguistics 120. 289–315.
Haspelmath, Martin. 1993. The diachronic externalization of
inflection. Linguistics 31. 279–309.
Haspelmath, Martin. 2017. Explaining alienability contrasts in
adpossessive constructions. Predictability vs. iconicity. Zeitschrift
für Sprachwissenschaft 36. 193–231.
Haspelmath, Martin. 2018. Can cross-linguistic regularities be
explained by change constraints? In: Schmidtke-Bode, Karsten, Natalia
Levshina, Susanne Maria Michaelis & Ilja A. Seržant (eds.) Explanation
in Linguistic Typology. Diachronic sources, functional motivations and
the nature of the evidence. (in prep.).
Hill, Eugen. 2015. Suppletion replication in grammaticalisation and
its triggering factors. Language Dynamics and Change 5. 52–91.
Jacques, Guillaume & Anton Antonov. 2015. The directionality of
analogical change in direct/inverse systems. <hal-01386721>
Janse, Mark. 2009. Watkins’s Law and the development of agglutinative
inflections in Asia Minor Greek. Journal of Greek Linguistics 9.93–109.
Koch, Harold. 1995. The creation of morphological zeros. In: Booij,
Geert E. & Jaan van Marle (eds.). The Yearbook of Morphology 1994.
Dordrecht: Kluwer. 31–71.
Maiden, Martin. 2004. When lexemes become allomorphs—On the genesis of
suppletion. Folia Linguistica 38. 227–256.
Majer, Marek. 2015. Russian kotóryj, Czech který, Slovene katri:
vowel variation in the reflexes of Proto-Slavic *koterъ(jь) ‘which (of
the two)’. Scando-Slavica 61. 154–179.
Miller, D. Gary. 2010. Language Change and Linguistic Theory I.
Approaches, Methodology, and Sound Change. Oxford: Oxford University
Plank, Frans. 2016. Vom Suppletiv(un)wesen, in Beziehung zu
Paradigmenstrukturen und in besonderer Rücksicht der historischen
Natur beschränkter Möglichkeiten. In: Bittner, Andreas & Klaus-Michael
Köpcke (Hgg). Prozesse der Regularität und Irregularität in Phonologie
und Morphologie. Diachron, kontrastiv, typologisch. Berlin: De
Siewierska, Anna. 2010. Person asymmetries in zero expression and
grammatical function. In: Floricic, Franck (ed.). Essais de typologie
et de linguistique générale. Mélanges offerts à Denis Creissels. Lyon:
Ens Éditions. 471–485.
Strunk, Klaus. 1987. Ergänzende Beobachtungen zu „Wortumfang und
Wortform“. Zeitschrift für vergleichende Sprachforschung 100. 323–338.
van Loon, Jozef. 2005. Principles of Historical Morphology.
Prof. Dr. Eugen Hill
Institut für Linguistik
Universität zu Köln
Tel: +(49) 221 470 - 2282
Fax: +(49) 221 470 - 5947
More information about the Lingtyp