Conference information & first call for papers

Bill McGregor linwmg at HUM.AU.DK
Tue Jul 8 01:15:41 UTC 2008


The diachrony of classification systems

Recent years have seen much work directed at the study of classifiers in
languages (Aikhenvald 2000, Senft 2000, Grinevald and Seifart 2004,
Seifart and Payne 2007). Most of this work, however, has focused on
typological and synchronic aspects of classifier systems. In this
conference we would like to bring together scholars who are interested in
looking at the ways in which linguistic classifications arise, change, or
disappear again. What is the role of diffusion in such processes? What can
be diffused – for instance, is it possible for the idea of classifier
systems to be diffused, or must forms also be diffused? Are there
generalizations to be made about the sorts of semantic distinctions
expected to be found in more vs. less grammaticalised systems of
classification? How does a system of classification treat ‘intrusive’
items from a different cultural group, or new items from within? How
stable are systems of classification over time, including in extraordinary
circumstances such as language attrition?We are not only interested in
linguistic classification systems such as numeral classifiers, noun
classes, and verbal classifiers but also more broadly in classification
systems overall, i.e. including script classifiers (e.g., Egyptian,
Chinese or Maya writing), ontologies, ethnobotanical classification
system, etc.

Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 2000. Classifiers: A Typology of Noun
Categorization Devices. Oxford Studies in Typology and Linguistic Theory.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Grinevald, Colette and Frank Seifart. 2004. Noun classes in African and
Amazonian languages: Towards a comparison. Linguistic Typology 8: 243-85.
Seifart, Frank and Doris L. Payne. 2007. Nominal classification in the
North West Amazon: Issues in areal diffusion and typological
characterization. International Journal of American Linguistics 73.4:
381-387. [Cf. also other papers in IJAL 73.4]
Senft, Gunter (ed.). 2000. Systems of Nominal Classification. New York:
Cambridge University Press.

Plenary speakers:

Eva Schultze-Berndt (The University of Manchester)
Frank Seifart (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)

Please send a 300-500 word abstract by 1st September, 2008 to
wichmann at and linwmg at Notification of acceptance will
be by 30th September, 2008.

The conference is held under the auspices of the five-year project
“Stability and adaptation of classification systems in a cross-cultural
perspective” supported by the European Science Foundation (COST Action

Venue: Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and
Social Sciences (NIAS), Wassenaar, (16 km from Leiden)

Time: March 12-13, 2009

Organizers: Søren Wichmann (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary
Anthropology and Leiden University, William B. McGregor (University of
Aarhus)Contact: Søren Wichmann (wichmann at or Bill McGregor
linwmg at

Prof. William McGregor,
Afdeling for Lingvistik,
Aarhus Universitet,
Building 1410, 
Ndr. Ringgade,
DK-8000 Aarhus C
Ph. 45 89 42 65 59
Fax 45 89 42 65 70
e:mail: linwmg at

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <>

More information about the Lingtyp mailing list