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Linguistic morphology in time and space (LiMiTS)

English title Linguistic morphology in time and space (LiMiTS)
Applicant Bickel Balthasar
Number 160739
Funding scheme Sinergia
Research institution Seminar für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Other languages and literature
Start/End 01.02.2016 - 30.04.2019
Approved amount 1'501'435.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Other languages and literature
Other disciplines of Environmental Sciences

Keywords (5)

Areal linguistics; Language contact; Diachronic linguistics; Morphology; Geographic Information Science

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Die Veränderung von Sprachen im Verlauf der Zeit wird häufig durch Kontakt mit Nachbarsprachen beeinflusst. Das kann zur Herausbildung grossflächiger Areale mit relativ ähnlicher Grammatik auch unter nicht-verwandten Sprachen führen. In diesem Projekt untersuchen wir die Effekte von Sprachkontakt auf die Evolution von Morphologie (Formenlehre, Wortbildung) in verschiedenen Sprachfamilien in Europa, Asien und Südamerika, unter Berücksichtigung sowohl der Geographie wie auch der bekannten Ereignisgeschichte. Dies ermöglicht ein Verständnis der Prinzipien, die die geographische Verteilung unterschiedlicher Arten und Ausbaugrade von Morphologie steuern.
Lay summary

Wir verbinden Methoden der geographischen Informationswissenschaft (GIScience) mit solchen der computer-gestützten und der traditionellen historischen Linguistik, um die Prozesse und Bedingungen zu bestimmen, die zum Angleich von Morphologien verschiedener Sprachen und Sprachfamilien unter Kontakteinfluss führen. Anhand von relativ gut dokumentierten Kontaktsituationen in Europa (Keltisch, Romanisch) werden neue Verfahren entwickelt, verfeinert und kalibriert, um sie dann zur Rekonstruktion historischer Prozesse in Regionen Asiens und Südamerikas einzusetzen, deren Geschichte deutlich weniger gut dokumentiert ist. Die dafür nötigen Daten werden mit Hilfe eines eigens entwickelten Systems von präzisen Vergleichsparametern erfasst. 

Unterschiede in der Morphologie haben erhebliche Konsequenzen für das Lernen und die Verarbeitung von Sprachen. Das Projekt erarbeitet die Grundlagen für ein Verständnis dieser Unterschiede und einer Erklärung ihrer Verteilung und Entwicklung. Damit verbunden ergeben sich auch neue Einsichten in die Populationsgeschichte Europas, Südamerikas und Asiens. Durch die Verzahnung geographischer und linguistischer Methoden fügt sich das Projekt in eine sich neu herausbildende Forschungsrichtung der historischen Sprachwissenschaft ein, die mit quantitativen Ansätzen operiert.
 

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 12.12.2015

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Exploring deep-time relationships between cultural and genetic evolution in Northeast Asia
Matsumae Hiromi, Savage Patrick, Ranacher Peter, BickelBalthasar (2019), Exploring deep-time relationships between cultural and genetic evolution in Northeast Asia, bioRxiv, https://www.biorxiv.org/.
Spanish in contact with South-American languages, with special emphasis on Andean and Paraguayan Spanish. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford University Pres
ZúñigaFernando (2019), Spanish in contact with South-American languages, with special emphasis on Andean and Paraguayan Spanish. In Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Linguistics. Oxford University Pres, in Gardani Francesco, Loporaro Michele (ed.), Oxford University Press, New York, 1-30.
On morphological borrowing
Gardani Francesco (2018), On morphological borrowing, in Language and Linguistics Compass, 12(10), e12302-e12302.
Gender from Latin to Romance: history, geography, typology
Loporcaro Michele (2018), Gender from Latin to Romance: history, geography, typology, Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Morfomi sommersi in pantesco o dell’arte di arrangiarsi in morfologia
LoporcaroMichele, NägiNadja, GardaniFrancesco (2018), Morfomi sommersi in pantesco o dell’arte di arrangiarsi in morfologia, in Chilà Annamaria, De Angelis Alessandro (ed.), Centro di studi filologici e linguistici siciliani, Palermo, 273-305.
Transitivity markers in West Himalayish: synchronic and diachronic considerations.
Widmer Manuel (2018), Transitivity markers in West Himalayish: synchronic and diachronic considerations., in Linguistics of the Tibeto-Burman Area., 41(1), 75-105.
Egophoricity, Involvement, and Semantic Roles in Tibeto-Burman Languages
Widmer Manuel, Zúñiga Fernando (2017), Egophoricity, Involvement, and Semantic Roles in Tibeto-Burman Languages, in Open Linguistics, 3(1), 419-441.
Cases, paradigms, affixes and indexes: Selecting grammatical relations in Middle Breton
Widmer Paul (2017), Cases, paradigms, affixes and indexes: Selecting grammatical relations in Middle Breton, in Poppe E. K. Stüber P. Widmer (ed.), Nodus, Münster, 217-242.
Global Analysis of the Influence of Geographical Factors on Contact-Induced Language Change
Kälin Fabiola (2017), Global Analysis of the Influence of Geographical Factors on Contact-Induced Language Change, Master's Thesis, Department of Geography, University of Zurich.
Areas and universals
Bickel Balthasar (2017), Areas and universals, in Hickey Raymond (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 40-55.
Egophoricity, involvement, and semantic roles in Tibeto-Burman languages
Widmer Manuel, Zúniga Fernando (2017), Egophoricity, involvement, and semantic roles in Tibeto-Burman languages, in Open Linguistics, 3, 419-441.
Identifying probable pathways of language diffusion in South America
Ranacher Peter, Derungs Curdin, van Gijn Rik (2017), Identifying probable pathways of language diffusion in South America, in AGILE 2017 (20th AGILE Conference on Geographic Information Science), Wageningen (NL)Association of Geographic Information Laboratories in Europe, Utrecht (NL).
Linguistic areas, linguistic convergence, and river systems in South America
van Gijn Rik, Hammarström Harald, van de Kerke Simon, Krasnoukhova Olga, Muysken Pieter (2017), Linguistic areas, linguistic convergence, and river systems in South America, in Hickey Raymond (ed.), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 964-996.
S, A, and P argument demotion with preverbal imm-(an)- in Old and Middle Irish
Dedio Stefan, Widmer Paul (2017), S, A, and P argument demotion with preverbal imm-(an)- in Old and Middle Irish, in Etudes Celtiques, 187-206.
The acquisition of polysynthetic verb forms in Chintang.
Stoll Sabine, Mazara Jekatarina, Bickel Balthasar (2017), The acquisition of polysynthetic verb forms in Chintang., in Mithun Marianne, Evans Nicholas, Fortescue Michael (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 495-514.
The evolution of egophoricity and evidentiality in the Himalayas: the case of Bunan.
Widmer Manuel (2017), The evolution of egophoricity and evidentiality in the Himalayas: the case of Bunan., in .Journal of Historical Linguistics, 7, 246-275.
The 'word' in polysynthetic languages: phonological and syntactic challenge
Bickel Balthasar, Zúñiga Fernando (2017), The 'word' in polysynthetic languages: phonological and syntactic challenge, in Mithun Marianne , Evans Nicholas, Fortescue Michael D. (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford, 158-185.
Borrowing matter and pattern in morphology. Special Issue of Morphology
Gardani Francesco (ed.), Borrowing matter and pattern in morphology. Special Issue of Morphology, Springer, Chams.
Breton a-Marking of Internal Arguments – a Result of Language Contact?
StarkElisabeth, WidmerPaul, Breton a-Marking of Internal Arguments – a Result of Language Contact?, in Linguistics, 1.
Case markers as subordinators in South American languages
van Gijn Rik, Case markers as subordinators in South American languages, in Fleck David, Shibatani Masayoshi, Zariquiey Roberto (ed.), John Benjamins, Amsterdam/Philadelphia.
Comparative, similative, and equative constructions in Mon.
Jenny Mathias, Comparative, similative, and equative constructions in Mon., in Vanhove Martine, Treis Yvonne (ed.), John Benjamins, Amsterdam & Philadelphia, 291-319.
Evidence for Britain and Ireland as a linguistic area
DedioStefan, RanacherPeter, WidmerPaul, Evidence for Britain and Ireland as a linguistic area, in Language, 1.
Highland-lowland language interactions.
van Gijn Rik, Muysken Pieter, Highland-lowland language interactions., in Pearce Adrian, Heggarty Paul, Beresford-Jones David (ed.), UCL Press, London.
Indeed, Nothing Lost in the Balkans: Assessing Morphosyntactic Convergence in an Areal Context
SonnenhauserBarbara, WidmerPaul, Indeed, Nothing Lost in the Balkans: Assessing Morphosyntactic Convergence in an Areal Context, in Balkanistica, 1.
Large and ancient linguistic areas
Bickel Balthasar, Large and ancient linguistic areas, in Hombert Jean-Marie, Crevels Mily, Muysken Pieter (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Morphology and contact-induced language change
Gardani Francesco, Morphology and contact-induced language change, in Grant Anthony (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Same same but different: on the relationship between egophoricity and evidentiality.
Widmer Manuel, Same same but different: on the relationship between egophoricity and evidentiality., in Proceedings of the Symposium on Evidentiality, Egophoricity, and Engagement, StockholmLanguage Science Press, Leipzig.
Separating layers of information: the anatomy of contact zones
van GijnRik, Separating layers of information: the anatomy of contact zones, in Smith Norval, Veenstra Tonjes , Aboh Enoch (ed.), John Benjamins, Amsterdam & Philadelphia.
Switch reference in morphology
van GijnRik, Switch reference in morphology, in Lieber Rochelle (ed.), Oxford University Press, New York.
Switch reference in morphology
van Gijn Rik, Switch reference in morphology, in Lieber Rochelle (ed.), Oxford University Press, Oxford.
The evolution of evidentiality and egophoricity in the Himalayas: the case of Bunan.
Widmer Manuel, The evolution of evidentiality and egophoricity in the Himalayas: the case of Bunan., in .Journal of Historical Linguistics.
Towards a typology of egophoricity in Tibeto-Burman.
Widmer Manuel, Zúniga Fernando, Towards a typology of egophoricity in Tibeto-Burman., in Open Linguistics.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Dept of Linguistics, Radboud University Nijmegen Netherlands (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
University of California, Berkeley United States of America (North America)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Centre de Recherches Linguistiques sur L'Asie Orientale (CRLAO), UMR 8563-EHESS, Paris France (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
MPI for the Science of Human History Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
- Exchange of personnel
Dept. of General Linguistics, University of Kiel Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Centre for Language and Literature Sweden (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
Language change in English and beyond: Linguistic theory and historical corpora Talk given at a conference The value of unsuccessful exploratory constructions for the study of language change 14.03.2019 Athens, Greece Widmer Paul; Dedio Stefan;
Workshop on evidentiality in Tibetic languages and beyond Talk given at a conference The evolution of epistemic categories in Bunan 16.02.2019 Tübingen, Germany Widmer Manuel;
Seminar Invited Lectures Individual talk Linguistic diversity in South America: multidisciplinary perspectives 08.02.2019 York, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Van Gijn Erik;
Seminar Invited Lectures Individual talk Linguistic diversity in South America: multidisciplinary perspectives 31.01.2019 Lund, Sweden Van Gijn Erik;
Spatial Patterns of Language Evolution Talk given at a conference Finding zones of shared evolution in space 24.01.2019 Zurich, Switzerland Ranacher Peter; Neureiter Nico; Van Gijn Erik;
Spatial Patterns of Language Evolution Talk given at a conference Migration Beyond Diffusion: Drift in Human Phylogeography 24.01.2019 Zurich, Switzerland Weibel Robert; Van Gijn Erik; Ranacher Peter; Neureiter Nico;
Going Romance Talk given at a conference Contact-induced complexification in the gender system of Istro-Romanian 11.12.2018 Utrecht, Netherlands Loporcaro Michele; Gardani Francesco;
New Fields for Morphology Talk given at a conference On the evolution of so-called hierarchical person-marking systems in Tupian and Sino-Tibetan 02.11.2018 Guilford, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Van Gijn Erik; Widmer Manuel;
Conference on the shaping of transitivity and argument structure: theoretical and empirical perspectives Talk given at a conference Transitivity markers in West Himalayish (Tibeto-Burman) 25.10.2018 Pavia, Italy Widmer Manuel;
ICSTLL 51 Talk given at a conference The linguistic prehistory of the western Himalayas 25.09.2018 Kyoto, Japan Widmer Manuel;
ICSTLL 51 Talk given at a conference Transitivity markers in West Himalayish 25.09.2018 Kyoto, Japan Widmer Manuel;
Syntax of the World’s languages 8 Talk given at a conference Negation in Mapudungun 03.09.2018 Paris, France Zuñiga Fernando;
49th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea Talk given at a conference Perspective persistence in reported speech constructions: areality and diachrony in Tibeto-Burman 31.08.2018 Naples, Italy Widmer Manuel;
SLE 2018 Talk given at a conference Transitivity Discord Constructions: Unity and Diversity 29.08.2018 Tallin, Estonia Zuñiga Fernando;
Morphosyntactic misfits: clitics, particles, and non-canonical affixes in South American languages Talk given at a conference Towards a typology of so-called clitics in South American languages 23.07.2018 Lima, Peru Van Gijn Erik;
Morphosyntactic misfits: clitics, particles, and non-canonical affixes in South American languages Talk given at a conference Clitic typologies and so-called clitics in South American language descriptions 23.07.2018 Lima, Peru Van Gijn Erik;
Morphosyntactic misfits: clitics, particles, and non-canonical affixes in South American languages Talk given at a conference Multivariate morphology (Keynote talk) 23.07.2018 Lima, Peru Bickel Balthasar;
13th Cambridge Italian Dialect Syntax-Morphology Meeting Talk given at a conference Morfomi sommersi in Pantesco (o dell’arte di arrangiarsi in morfologia) 03.07.2018 Messina, Italy Loporcaro Michele; Gardani Francesco;
Conference on Typology and Universals in Word Formation 4 Talk given at a conference Wordless morphology (Plenary talk) 27.06.2018 Košice, Slovakia Bickel Balthasar;
Typologi ar Brezhoneg Talk given at a conference Breton reflexives: Stability in a dynamic typological landscape 20.06.2018 Quimper, France Dedio Stefan; Widmer Paul;
Romance languages and the others: The Balkan Sprachbund Talk given at a conference Albanian as a (non-)Balkan language: morphosyntactic aspects 25.05.2018 Zurich, Switzerland Widmer Paul;
Romance languages and the others: The Balkan Sprachbund Talk given at a conference Borrowed numerals in Istro-Romanian 25.05.2018 Zurich, Switzerland Loporcaro Michele; Gardani Francesco;
Romance languages and the others: The Balkan Sprachbund Talk given at a conference lbanian as a (non-)Balkan language: what is actually lost or gained? 25.05.2018 Zurich, Switzerland Widmer Paul;
A corpus and usage-based approach to Ancient Greek: from the Archaic period until the Koiné Talk given at a conference Neutral Animacy? The Role of Referential Features in Attic Agreement (Keynote talk) 12.04.2018 Riga, Latvia Dedio Stefan; Widmer Paul;
Morphology seminar Individual talk Verb aspect borrowing in Istro-Romanian 10.04.2018 Stony Brook, United States of America Gardani Francesco;
Workshop Albanisch in Kontakt Talk given at a conference Albanische Morphosyntax im Kontakt 19.12.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Widmer Paul;
12th biannual meeting of the Association for Linguistic Typology (ALT) Talk given at a conference Estimating diachronic biases of typological traits in unknown phylogenies 15.12.2017 Canberra, Australia Bickel Balthasar;
12th biannual meeting of the Association for Linguistic Typology (ALT) Talk given at a conference Reflexivity in north-western Europe. A diachronical and areal perspective 13.12.2017 Canberra, Australia Widmer Paul; Ranacher Peter; Dedio Stefan; Gardani Francesco;
12th biannual meeting of the Association for Linguistic Typology (ALT) Talk given at a conference How the prinzess became prinzessin 12.12.2017 Canberra, Australia Gardani Francesco;
12th biannual meeting of the Association for Linguistic Typology (ALT) Talk given at a conference Recurrent patterns in the distribution of speech pauses cause languages to develop more prefixes in verbs than in nouns 12.12.2017 Canberra, Australia Bickel Balthasar;
50th Meeting of the Australian Linguistic Society Talk given at a conference Category clustering: Convergent evidence for a morphological bias in typological data and in Chintang free affix ordering 07.12.2017 Sidney, Australia Bickel Balthasar;
Helsinki Areal and Language Studies Talk given at a conference Detecting areal signals – the case of reflexives in north-western Europe 24.11.2017 Helsinki, Finland Gardani Francesco; Dedio Stefan; Ranacher Peter; Widmer Paul;
Variation and Change in the Syntax and Morphology of Medieval Celtic Languages Talk given at a conference The pervasiveness of agreement in the history of Welsh and Breton 13.10.2017 Maynooth, Ireland Dedio Stefan; Widmer Paul;
ICAAL 7 Talk given at a conference Comparative constructions in Mon in typological, areal, and diachronic perspective 29.09.2017 Kiel, Germany Jenny Mathias;
50th annual meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea Talk given at a conference Introduction: matter versus pattern borrowing 12.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Gardani Francesco;
50th annual meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea Talk given at a conference Area formation processes in North-Western Europe 12.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Dedio Stefan; Widmer Paul; Ranacher Peter; Gardani Francesco;
50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea Talk given at a conference Molecular Anthropology as a window on language contact: diffusion probabilities in phonology and grammar 11.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Bickel Balthasar;
50th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea Talk given at a conference Rethinking the relationship between egophoricity and evidentiality 10.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Widmer Manuel;
50th annual meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea Talk given at a conference Keeping language-particular analysis, comparison and universalist theory together: a multivariate approach to morphology in the world’s languages 10.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Widmer Paul; Zakharko Taras; Bickel Balthasar; Van Gijn Erik; Dedio Stefan; Gardani Francesco; Widmer Manuel;
50th annual meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea Talk given at a conference Competition on verbal agreement paradigms: are conflicts resolved in systematic and historically stable way? 10.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Bickel Balthasar; Zuñiga Fernando;
New approaches to Brittonic historical linguistics Talk given at a conference Estimating the impact of contact on morphological change in North-Western Europe 01.09.2017 Dublin, Ireland Ranacher Peter; Dedio Stefan; Widmer Paul; Gardani Francesco;
New Approaches to Brittonic Historical Linguistics Talk given at a conference Establishing verbal domains in early British 01.09.2017 Dublin, Ireland Dedio Stefan;
23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics Talk given at a conference The Loss of Verbal Categories in Indo-European 31.07.2017 San Antonio, United States of America Bickel Balthasar; Ranacher Peter; Widmer Manuel; Widmer Paul;
23rd International Conference on Historical Linguistics Talk given at a conference The linguistic prehistory of the western Himalayas: endangered minority languages as a window to the past 31.07.2017 San Antonio, United States of America Widmer Manuel;
Contact-driven Multilingual Practices Talk given at a conference Gorakha in Myanmar - shift and retention under intensive language contact 01.06.2017 Helsinki, Finland Jenny Mathias; Widmer Paul;
Spatial Boundaries and Transitions in Language and Interaction: Perspectives from Linguistics and Geography Talk given at a conference Linguistic areas bottom-up 25.04.2017 Monte Veritá, Switzerland Bickel Balthasar;
3rd Indo-European Research Colloquium Talk given at a conference Phonology and morphosyntax of early Insular Celtic verbal phrases 21.04.2017 Vienna, Austria Dedio Stefan;
Phylogenetic Methods in Historical Linguistics Talk given at a conference Stochastic grammar mapping. Keynote lecture 27.03.2017 Tübingen, Germany Bickel Balthasar;
Linguistic databases: dictionary, grammar, or dataset repository? Talk given at a conference Towards a multivariate database of morphological structure 24.03.2017 Lund, Sweden Widmer Manuel; Van Gijn Erik; Zakharko Taras; Dedio Stefan; Gardani Francesco; Bickel Balthasar;
Inaugural lecture Rik van Gijn Individual talk Linguistic diversity and the South American perspective 06.03.2017 Zurich, Switzerland Van Gijn Erik;
9th Days of Swiss Linguistics Talk given at a conference Presumptive evidence: how conversational implicature can give rise to evidential contrasts 29.06.2016 Geneva, Switzerland Widmer Manuel;
23rd International Symposium on Theoretical and Applied Linguistics Talk given at a conference Reflexivity in north-western Europe: A diachronical and areal perspective. 01.04.2016 Thessaloniki, Greece Widmer Paul; Dedio Stefan;
Workshop on the development of argument-marking systems Talk given at a conference The diachrony of argument marking: a case study from the Himalayas 31.03.2016 Nijmegen, Netherlands Widmer Manuel;
Symposium on evidentiality, egophoricity and engagement: descriptive and typological perspectives Talk given at a conference Same same but different: the relationship between evidentiality and egophoricity 17.03.2016 Stockholm, Sweden Widmer Manuel;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Spatial Patterns of Language Evolution 24.01.2019 Zurich, Switzerland
Morphosyntactic misfits: clitics, particles, and non-canonical affixes in South American languages 23.07.2018 Lima, Peru
Romance languages and the others: The Balkan Sprachbund 25.05.2018 Zurich, Switzerland
Albanisch in Kontakt 19.12.2017 Zurich, Switzerland
Rethinking evidentiality 12.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland
Matter borrowing vs pattern borrowing in morphology 12.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland
Niches in morphology 11.09.2017 Zurich, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Media relations: print media, online media Im Gewächshaus der Sprache UZH Magazin German-speaking Switzerland 2017

Awards

Title Year
Associate Research Scholar in The Italian Academy for Advanced Studies in America at Columbia University (New York City) 2019
European Research Council consolidator grant 2019
SAGW grant 2019
SAGW grant 2017
University of Zurich Graduate Campus Travel Grant (2017_Q3_TG_083) 2017
University Research Priority Program Language and Space grant for fieldwork 2016

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
171124 Scripts and orthography in corpus-based language typology 01.09.2016 International short research visits
183578 Out of Asia: Linguistic Diversity and Population History 01.09.2019 Sinergia
140716 Modellierung morphosyntaktischer Raumbildung im Schweizerdeutschen (SynMod) 01.02.2013 Interdisciplinary projects
170241 The Evolution of Noun Phrases in Indo-Iranian: empirical foundations and theoretical modeling 01.09.2017 Project funding (Div. I-III)
150136 The Greater Burma Zone - a transitional zone of languages and peoples 01.03.2014 Project funding (Div. I-III)
133631 Islands in an ocean of (poly)synthesis and concatenative morphology. What linguistic theory and typology can learn from selected Amerindian languages 01.02.2012 SNSF Professorships

Abstract

The distribution of morphological profiles over the globe often appears to be geographically skewed. In fact, broad morphological characterization has been part and parcel of traditional portraits of linguistic areas. Often, these broad areal typologies inform ongoing debates on whether or not to reconstruct particular types of morphology, e.g. in Sino-Tibetan. However, in spite of the long-term concern that morphology has formed in comparative linguistics, we know surprisingly little about the general mechanisms of how language contact and processes of area formation affect the diachrony of morphological patterns. The present interdisciplinary Sinergia project brings together researchers from Zurich and Bern to address this issue. The project aims at determining the dynamics of diffusion and retention of morphological structure by integrating data and methods from historical linguistics with a refined, theoretically-informed parameterization of morphology and with phylogeographical modeling approaches drawing on Geographical Information Science (GIScience). The leading research question is: How does morphology develop in different genealogical and geographical contexts and to what extent is this development affected by language contact? We approach this question by comparing areas and language families in different geographical and historical situations, grouped in three sub-projects: (i) Celtic and Romance in Europe; (ii) Sino-Tibetan and its neighbors in South, Southeast and East Asia; (iii) Tupian, Quechuan, Cariban in South America. This choice is motivated by the fact that the sample covers a wide range of morphological diversity, that the three regions are historically largely independent of each other, and that we have extensive expertise in all regions in our Sinergia consortium. The methodological challenge is to adequately model contact-induced patterns of change, informed by what is known about geography and history. This challenge is taken up by a further sub-project dedicated to methods and carried out by GIScience researchers. The Celtic and Romance data sets (which are far richer than the other two) will serve as test-bed cases, in which new methodological instruments are developed, tested and calibrated; the Asian and American areas serve as application cases, in which the previously developed methods are applied to build integrated models.Parametrization of morphology will start from existing theories of grammatical and phonological word domains (paying close attention to non-isomorphism here), recent research on the clitic/affix distinction that suggests more variation than commonly assumed (e.g. Spencer & Luís 2012), and multivariate versions of morphological typology that introduce more fine-grained variables (e.g. Bickel & Nichols 2007). This work will be supported by a companion project on morphological typology in areal perspective, with a PhD study financed by the University of Zurich.In each of the three case studies we will evaluate hypotheses on morphological diachrony, both qualitatively and through quantitative (phylogeographical) modeling. Specifically we will assess hypotheses such as: (i) morphological diffusion is correlated with semantic and pragmatic diffusion (e.g. Weinreich 1953) and/or is inherently geared towards simplification (e.g. Trudgill 2011); (ii) areal skewings of complex morphology (e.g. (poly-)synthesis in the Americas) reflects deep-time persistence rather than spreads of innovations (e.g. Nichols 2003); (iii) substance borrowing is more likely with inherent features than with contextual features that respond to syntax (e.g. Gardani 2008). Models of such scenarios will systematically integrate information on historical events (e.g. known migrations or conquests), local geographies (e.g. mountain ridges, waterways) and multivariate, detailed databases of linguistic morphology. This will allow projecting the most likely diachronies of which ancestral languages were in contact and estimating where and when this happened, and to what extent these cases of contact had an effect on tree topologies and/or rates of change in morphology.
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