[Lingtyp] CfP SLE 2022 workshop Subordination and language change: new cross-linguistic approaches and perspectives

Iker Salaberri ikersalaberri at gmail.com
Tue Sep 7 16:46:59 UTC 2021

***Apologies for cross-posting***

Dear colleagues,

We would like to draw your attention to the call for papers for the
workshop "Subordination and language change: new cross-linguistic
approaches and perspectives", which (if accepted) will take place during
the 55th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea to be held in
Bucharest, August 24-27, 2022.

Kind regards,

Iker Salaberri, Annemarie Verkerk, and Anne Wolfsgruber


*Subordination and language change: new cross-linguistic approaches and
Deadline for abstract submission: November 1st, 2021

A recurrent claim in the literature on language change concerns the
conservativeness of subordinate clauses, i.e., the tendency for innovations
to arise in main clauses and only later, if at all, extend to embedded
contexts (Lightfoot 1982: 154, Bybee et al. 1994: 230‒231, Crowley & Bowern
2010: 231). A number of cross-linguistic grammatical asymmetries mapped
along different clause types have been accounted for by this view,
concerning, for instance, word order in Biblical Hebrew (Givón 1977:
191‒234), Chadic (Frajzyngier 1996: 165‒173), Germanic (Hock 1991: 330‒336)
and Niger-Congo (Givón 1979: 259‒261). The emergence of innovative
morphology in main clauses vs. preservation of obsolete morphology in
subordinate clauses in Basque (Aldai 2000: 48), Cairene Arabic (Mitchell
1956: 83‒85) and Tokyo Japanese (Matsuda 1993) has been explained in the
same terms. Matsuda (1998) and Bybee (2002) provide an extensive overview
of the reasons for this contrast between clause types.

There are, however, several issues with the view that subordinate clauses
preserve old features in the face of language change. First of all, some
scholars argue for the exact contrary, namely that innovative patterns
emerge in embedded contexts and only later extend to root clauses; this
point has been made in studies on reanalysis (Campbell 1991: 285‒299), word
order change (Stockwell & Minkova 1991: 399‒400) and the loss of null
referential pronouns in languages such as Old High German (Axel 2007:
307‒314), Middle French (Vance 1997: 294‒321, Ledgeway 2021 among others)
and Old Russian (Luraghi & Pinelli 2015). Second, other contributions state
that language change ensues at equal rates in all contexts affected by the
change (Kroch 1989: 206). Third, comparative research on this topic is
hampered by the fact that the concepts clause and subordination have,
despite their frequent use in the literature, numerous definitions that
vary depending on the conception of grammar. As a result, there is a lack
of comprehensive cross-linguistic studies on the diachronic behavior of
different clause types. This is despite the fact that the increasing
availability of grammatical descriptions and access to digital corpora
would enable such comparative research.

The aim of this workshop is to bring together scholars from different
theoretical persuasions working on historical linguistics, both in
languages with a well-documented history and languages for which less
diachronic evidence is available, but which can nonetheless provide
valuable data on the basis of comparative analysis. We welcome abstracts
dealing with specific languages as well as those which adopt a more general
cross-linguistic perspective. The following is a non-exhaustive list of
possible topics:

- What evidence is there that specific clause (sub)types are more
innovative/conservative in the face of language change?
- To what extent do divergent conceptions of clause and subordination
condition our understanding of language change in different clause types?
- What are the causes for the divergent diachronic behavior of different
clause types?
- Does the diachronic behavior of different clause types vary depending on
the language, language stage, linguistic family or area under discussion?
- Does contact between languages influence the way in which change ensues
in different kinds of clauses?
- How do frequency effects affect language change in different clause types?
- How can different statistical analyses help model the diachronic behavior
of various kinds of clauses?

Please send your non-anonymous abstract of max. 300 words to
ikersalaberri at gmail.com by 01-Nov-2021. The convenors will carry out a
first round of review and notify authors of their decision by mid-November.
Accepted abstracts will be sent to the SLE conference organizers as part of
the workshop proposal. Notification of acceptance or rejection of the
workshop proposal will be by 15th December.

Aldai, Gontzal. 2000. Split ergativity in Basque: the pre-Basque
antipassive-imperfective hypothesis. *Folia Linguistica Historica* 21(1/2).
Axel, Katrin. 2007. *Studies on Old High German syntax: left sentence
periphery, verb placement and verb-second*. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John
Bybee, Joan. 2002. Main clauses are innovative, subordinate clauses are
conservative: consequences for the nature of constructions. In Joan Bybee &
Michael Noonan (eds.), *Complex sentences in grammar and discourse: essays
in honor of Sandra A. Thompson*, 1‒18. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John
Bybee, Joan, Revere Perkins & William Pagliuca. 1994. *The evolution of
grammar: tense, aspect, and modality in the languages of the world*.
Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press.
Campbell, Lyle. 1991. Some grammaticalization changes in Estonian and their
implications. In Elizabeth C. Traugott & Bernd Heine (eds.), *Approaches to
grammaticalization*, volume 1: *Theoretical and methodological issues*,
285‒299. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Crowley, Terry & Claire Bowern. 2010. *An introduction to historical
linguistics* (4th edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Frajzyngier, Zygmunt. 1996. *Grammaticalization of the complex sentence: a
case study in Chadic*. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Givón, Talmy. 1977. The drift from VSO to SVO in Biblical Hebrew: the
pragmatics of tense-aspect. In Charles N. Li (ed.), *Mechanisms of
syntactic change*, 181‒254. Austin/London: University of Texas Press.
Givón, Talmy. 1979. *On understanding grammar*. Orlando: Academic Press.
Hock, Hans H. 1991. *Principles of historical linguistics* (2nd edition).
Berlin/New York: De Gruyter.
Kroch, Anthony S. 1989. Reflexes of grammar in patterns of language
change. *Language
Variation and Change* 1(3). 199‒244.
Ledgeway, Adam. 2021. V2 beyond borders: the Histoire Ancienne jusqu’à
César. *Journal of Historical Syntax* 29(5). 1‒65.
Lightfoot, David W. 1982. *The language lottery: toward a biology of
grammars*. Cambridge: Massachusetts Institute of Technology Press.
Luraghi, Silvia & Erica Pinelli. 2015. The loss of referential null
subjects in Russian: what subordinate clauses can tell us. Paper presented
at the Slavic corpus linguistics: the historical dimension conference,
Arctic University of Norway, April 21-22, 2015.
Matsuda, Kenjirô. 1993. Dissecting analogical leveling quantitatively: the
case of the innovative potential suffix in Tôkyô Japanese. *Language
Variation and Change* 5(1). 1‒34.
Matsuda, Kenjirô. 1998. On the conservatism of embedded clauses. *Theoretical
and applied linguistics at Kobe Shoin* 1. 1‒13.
Mitchell, Terence F. 1956. *An introduction to Egyptian colloquial Arabic*.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Stockwell, Robert P. & Donka Minkova. 1991. Subordination and word order
change in the history of English. In Dieter Kastovsky (ed.), *Historical
English syntax*, 367‒408. Berlin/New York: De Gruyter.
Vance, Barbara S. 1997. *Syntactic change in medieval French: verb-second
and null subjects*. Dordrecht: Springer Science & Business Media.
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