21.4500, Calls: Syntax, Historical Linguistics/Japan

Wed Nov 10 03:08:15 UTC 2010

LINGUIST List: Vol-21-4500. Tue Nov 09 2010. ISSN: 1068 - 4875.

Subject: 21.4500, Calls: Syntax, Historical Linguistics/Japan

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Date: 08-Nov-2010
From: Jóhanna Barðdal [johanna.barddal at uib.no]
Subject: Reconstructing Syntax

-------------------------Message 1 ---------------------------------- 
Date: Tue, 09 Nov 2010 22:04:37
From: Jóhanna Barðdal [johanna.barddal at uib.no]
Subject: Reconstructing Syntax

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Full Title: Reconstructing Syntax 

Date: 25-Jul-2011 - 30-Jul-2011
Location: Osaka, Japan 
Contact Person: Jóhanna Barðdal
Meeting Email: johanna.barddal at uib.no
Web Site: http://org.uib.no/iecastp/IECASTP/Workshop8.htm 

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Syntax 

Call Deadline: 15-Nov-2010 

Meeting Description:

Historical-comparative reconstruction has traditionally been focused on 
lexical, morphological and phonological comparisons, while syntactic 
reconstruction has either been systematically left unattended, regarded as 
fruitless or uninteresting, or even rebuked (cf. Watkins 1964, Jeffers 1976, 
Lightfoot 1979, 2006, Harrison 2003, Pires & Thomason 2008, Mengden 
2008, inter alia). The reason for this is that syntactic structures have been 
regarded as fundamentally different from, for instance, morphological 
structures, in several respects. That is, syntactic structures are larger and 
more complex units than morphological units. Semantically they have not 
been regarded on par with morphological units either, in that their meaning is 
regarded as the sum of the meaning of the lexical parts that instantiate them, 
and because of this semantic compositionality they have not been regarded 
as being arbitrary form-meaning correspondences like words. It has also been 
argued in the literature that syntactic structures are not inherited in the same 
way as the vocabulary (Lightfoot 1979 and later work), that there is no 
cognate material to compare when comparing sentences across daughter 
languages (Jeffers 1976), that there is no regularity of syntactic change, as 
opposed to the regularity of phonological change (Lightfoot 2002, Pirus & 
Thomason 2008), and that there is no arbitrariness found in syntax (Harrison 
2003), all of which render syntactic reconstruction fundamentally different 
from phonological reconstruction.

Recent work within historical-comparative syntax takes issue with this view 
of syntactic reconstruction (Kikusawa 2003, Harris 2008, Bauern 2008, 
Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal 2010), arguing that the concepts of 
'cognate status,' 'arbitrariness' and 'regularity' are non-problematic for 
syntactic reconstruction. This is so, first, because cognates are also found in 
syntax (Kikusawa 2003, Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal 2010). Second, 
because the arbitrariness requirement is simply not needed in syntax, as its 
role is first and foremost to aid in deciding on genetic relatedness, which is 
usually not an issue when doing syntactic reconstruction (Harrison 2003, 
Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal 2010). And, third, because a) the sound 
laws are only regular by definition (Hoenigswald 1987), and b) the sound laws 
are basically stand-ins for a similarity metric when deciding upon cognate 
status (Harrison 2003).

It has also recently been claimed (cf. Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal 
2010) that Construction Grammar is more easily extendible to syntactic 
reconstruction than other frameworks, due to the basic status of form-
meaning/function pairings in that framework. This creates a natural leap from 
synchronic form-meaning pairings to historical reconstruction, based on form-
meaning pairings.

Please see http://org.uib.no/iecastp/IECASTP/Workshop8.htm for complete 
list of references. 

Final Call For Papers

ICHL-20 in Osaka, Japan, 24-30 July 2011
Workshop title: Reconstructing Syntax
URL: http://org.uib.no/iecastp/IECASTP/Workshop8.htm

Organizers: Jóhanna Barðdal, University of Bergen & Spike Gildea, 
University of Oregon

The workshop description is available at 

This ICHL workshop aims at accommodating contributions including, but not 
limited to, the following:

- The fundamental issues of reconstruction in general and syntactic 
reconstruction in particular
- Individual case studies of syntactic reconstruction from different languages 
and language families
- A comparison of how different theoretical frameworks may contribute to 
syntactic reconstruction

Please send your abstracts of 500 words or less to Jóhanna Barðdal 
(Johanna.Barddal at uib.no), no later 
than November 15th 2010, preferably in pdf-format. A response on abstracts 
will be sent out on December 15th 2010.

LINGUIST List: Vol-21-4500	


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