2nd Call for Papers, SSILA session "Inflectional Classes in the Languages of the Americas"

Enrique L. Palancar epalancar at HOTMAIL.COM
Tue Jun 26 10:57:09 UTC 2012

SSILA session:

Inflectional Classes
in the Languages of the Americas 

Date: 03-Jan-2013 -

Location: Boston, MA, USA 

Contact Person: Enrique L. Palancar

Meeting Email: e.palancar at surrey.ac.uk

Call Deadline: 13-Jul-2012 

Meeting Description:

The Surrey Morphology Group (University of Surrey) is organizing a SSILA
session entitled 'Inflectional Classes in the Languages of the Americas' for
the 2013 Annual Meeting to be held during the LSA 2013 Annual Meeting in
Boston, MA from 3 to 6 January 2013.

Inflectional morphology expresses grammatical information, and in an ideal
world, each distinct form would correspond to a distinct meaning. But
inflectional markers may also display apparently unmotivated morphological
differences. For example, the present indicative of the second person in
Spanish has the ending -es for some verbs and -as for others (e.g. rompes 'you
break' vs. cantas 'you sing'), while in the subjunctive, the situation is reversed
(e.g. rompas 'you may break' vs. cantes 'you may sing'). Often such
inflectional allomorphy pervades the entire paradigm, as indeed it does in
Spanish, so that a given word class falls into morphologically distinct
inflection classes. Inflection classes are seemingly useless in functional
terms, and yet they are widely found across languages and remarkably resilient
over time.

Inflectional classes, as they resist a syntactic or phonological explanation,
are in themselves an interesting object of study for a theory of language
because they introduce into the linguistic system a layer of complexity which
is purely morphological. This has motivated a recent interest in their study.
See for example Ackerman et al. (2009), Finkel and Stump (2007), or Müller
(2007) among others. 

Nevertheless our knowledge of inflectional classes to date is still largely
based on European languages and is thus limited by their typological
characteristics. To elucidate a sound typology of inflectional classes, a
comprehensive theory must expand its horizons beyond well-known languages. 

In this connection, the languages of the Americas are notable for the richness
of their morphological systems. The general emphasis in the analyses of such
languages has been led by a quest to elucidate the complexities of their
morphosyntax, that is, the aspects of their morphologies which are motivated by
their syntax. This is understandable, but much less is known, for example,
about the ways verbal lexemes are grouped in some American Indian languages
into various classes based solely on their inflectional properties, although a
number of studies have indeed revealed layers of morphological complexity in
some of these languages that go far beyond the requirements of syntax, such as
for example Angulo (1933) and more recently Blevins (2005) and Campbell (2011),
among others. 

On the other hand, in the canonical case membership in an inflectional class is
random; that is to say, a given lexeme is a member of a certain inflectional
class not because of its phonological or semantic properties. However, there
are interesting borderline cases where membership in a class is partially
random and partially motivated by more general principles. Such borderline
cases reveal ways that allow inflectional classes to emerge in linguistic
systems and ways that may help language users to maintain them over time. In
this regard, studies based on lesser known languages can help to enhance our
understanding of the role played by such factors in how inflectional classes
operate, especially when there are major classes competing in the partition of
the lexicon of a given language. 

Second Call for Papers:

For this session, we welcome papers with either a descriptive or a theoretical
approach to the inflectional classes of one or several of the indigenous
languages of the Americas. Such studies can help us to establish a firm
empirical foundation for the study of the relation between the lexicon and the

The following is a list of possible topics that we would like the session to
tackle in some way or another.

- Differences between semantic verb classes and more canonical inflectional

- Principles governing lexeme class membership in inflectional classes

- Degree of inflectional overlap across the paradigms of different classes

- Degree of predictability of class assignment from a given form in the

- Inflectional class structure: apart from affixal morphology, what is the role
of stem alternation patterns in inflectional classes?

- Diachronic aspects of inflectional classes

Please submit your abstract in keeping with LSA 2013 Annual Meeting Abstract
Guidelines and Specifications (available at
http://lsadc.org/info/meet-annual13-abguide.cfm) by email attachment (as Word,
RTF or PDF files - please use PDF if special fonts are used) to:

e.palancar at surrey.ac.uk

Including in the body of your email message:

Title of the abstract: 



Please remember that for a SSILA meeting, it is customary that the abstract,
including examples if needed, should be no more than one typed page (a second
page may only be used for references). 

The deadline for submission of abstracts is July 13, 2012. 

The abstracts will be refereed anonymously by the session's organizing
committee as well as by external reviewers, and authors will be notified of
inclusion to the proposed session by July 15. A final decision of SSILA
acceptance of the session falls outside of the organizers' control and will be
communicated to authors by late summer. Should the session not be accepted, the
abstracts will be considered instead for the general session.

Panel Organizing Committee:

Matthew Baerman: m.baerman at surrey.ac.uk

Greville G. Corbett: g.corbett at surrey.ac.uk

Dunstan C. Brown: d.brown at surrey.ac.uk

Enrique L. Palancar: e.palancar at surrey.ac.uk 

References Cited: 
- Ackerman, Farrell, James P. Blevins, & Robert Malouf. 2009. Parts and
wholes: Implicative patterns in inflectional paradigms. In James P. Blevins
& Juliette Blevins (eds.), Analogy in grammar: form and acquisition.
Oxford: OUP, 54-82.
- Angulo, Jaime. 1933. The Chichimeco Language, International Journal of American
Linguistics 7: 152-194.
- Blevins, Juliette. 2005. Yurok verb classes. International Journal of American
Linguistics 71(3): 327-349.
- Campbell, Eric. 2011. Zenzontepec Chatino Aspect Morphology and Zapotecan Verb
Classes. International Journal of American Linguistics 77(2): 219-246.
- Finkel, Raphael and Gregory T. Stump. 2007. Principal parts and morphological
typology. Morphology 17.39-75.
- Müller, Gereon. 2007. Notes on paradigm economy. Morphology 17.1-38. 		 	   		  
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