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Distribution and function of ‘partitive articles’ in Romance (DiFuPaRo): a microvariation analysis

English title Distribution and function of ‘partitive articles’ in Romance (DiFuPaRo): a microvariation analysis
Applicant Stark Elisabeth
Number 172751
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Romanisches Seminar Universität Zürich
Institution of higher education University of Zurich - ZH
Main discipline Romance languages and literature
Start/End 01.06.2018 - 31.05.2022
Approved amount 492'661.00
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Keywords (7)

partitive articles; mass nouns; nominal morphosyntax; microvariation; quantified expressions; indefinite determiners; North Western Romance languages

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
La recherche linguistique de ces cinquante dernières années a démontré que l’existence de certaines propriétés grammaticales implique l’existence d’autres propriétés dans la même langue (clusters de propriétés). Dans ce projet, nous nous intéressons à la manière dont certaines langues romanes, apparemment similaires, exhibent des propriétés linguistiques variables, surtout l’existence de l’« article partitif », tel que du/del en français/italien/francoprovençal, qui distingue ces langues d’autres langues romanes comme l’espagnol.
Lay summary

Contenu et objectifs

Dans ce projet, nous allons étudier l’italien standard et le français standard, plus leurs variétés vernaculaires, et celles du francoprovençal et du ladin. Le but est de (i) comparer leurs propriétés morphosyntaxiques, et (ii) déterminer comment et pourquoi l’article partitif a évolué et s’est répandu dans un espace géographique précis, France - Italie du Nord - Suisse, et non à toutes les langues romanes. Pour ce faire, nous utiliserons des données provenant de bases de données disponibles (OFROM: français oral Suisse; ALAVAL: francoprovençal; ASIt: italien du nord) et, d’autres que nous recueillerons, adoptant les techniques bien établies du travail de terrain. Ces données nous permettrons de modéliser la variation, en particulier la manière dont les éléments morphosyntaxiques encodent des propriétés sémantiques, leur distribution et leur fonction.

Contexte

La découverte et documentation de caractéristiques inconnues dans des variétés romanes en partie menacées nous permettra de comprendre la question du contact entre les langues dans l’explication de la distribution des traits grammaticaux dans l’espace (Bickel 2007).

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.04.2018

Lay Summary (Italian)

Lead
La ricerca linguistica degli ultimi cinquant’anni ha provato come l’esistenza di certe proprietà implichi l’esistenza di altre nella stessa lingua: le proprietà linguistiche formano dei cluster. L’obiettivo del progetto è investigare come lingue romanze simili mostrino proprietà variabili; più precisamente, il progetto si focalizza sull’esistenza dell’articolo partitivo, i.e. forme come du/del ‘of the’ in italiano/francese/francoprovenzale, ma non, ad esempio, in spagnolo/portoghese.
Lay summary

Contenuto e obiettivi

Saranno indagati sia il francese e l’italiano standard che le varietà dialettali norditaliane (e.g., il ladino), più il  franco-provenzale. Gli obiettivi sono (i) comparare le proprietà morfosintattiche di queste lingue e identificare cluster che ci permettano (ii) di capire come e perché gli articoli partitivi si siano evoluti e diffusi in una specifica area geografica e non in tutta la Romània. Come mezzi di indagine, utilizzeremo database esistenti (OFROM: francese svizzero colloquiale; ALAVAL: francoprovenzale svizzero; ASIt: dialetti del nord-Italia) e indagini sul campo svolte con tecniche consolidate. I dati ottenuti ci permetteranno di proporre un modello di variazione linguistica riguardo la presenza/assenza degli articoli partitivi e, più in generale, di comprendere come i mezzi morfo-sintattici della lingua codifichino certi tratti semantici.

 

Il progetto non ha una rilevanza puramente descrittivo-teorica, ma permetterà anche di documentare tratti sconosciuti di varietà Romanze in parziale pericolo di estinzione, usate quasi solo in contesti informali. Queste varietà sono molto importanti per riuscire ad approfondire questioni di contatto linguistico e per comprendere i meccanismi dietro la distribuzione dei tratti linguistici nello spazio (Bickel 2007).

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.04.2018

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
The linguistic research of the last fifty years has proved that the existence of some grammatical properties implies the existence of others in the same language so that linguistic properties form clusters. The project aims at investigating the way similar Romance languages display variable properties, esp. the existence of “partitive articles”, i.e. forms like du/del, ‘of the’, found in languages like French, Francoprovençal and Italian, but not e.g. in Spanish.
Lay summary

Content and objectives

Our study will target standard Italian and standard French, plus their vernacular varieties, and Francoprovençal and Ladin. The aim is to (i) compare the morphosyntactic properties of these languages, and (ii) determine how and why partitive articles have evolved and spread through a precise geographical domain (France-Northern Italy-part of Switzerland), but not across all Romance. To do so, we will make use of already existing data bases (OFROM: colloquial Swiss French; ALAVAL: Francoprovençal; ASIt: Northern Italian) and gather data of our own, adopting well-established techniques of field work. The pool of data obtained will enable us to find out how variation can be modelled, in particular how morpho-syntactic means encode semantic properties, and the distribution and function of partitive articles in all vernacular varieties under scrutiny.

Context

Besides the gain in linguistic description and analysis, the overall importance of this project lies also in unravelling and documenting unknown features of partially endangered Romance varieties used in informal contexts only, which are highly relevant to understand issues of language contact in the explanation of the distribution of grammatical features in space (Bickel 2007).

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 23.04.2018

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Project partner

Publications

Publication
Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article
Ihsane Tabea (ed.) (2020), Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article, Brill, Leiden.

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
198806 Disentangling Bare Nouns and Nominals Introduced by a Partitive Article 01.09.2020 Open Access Books

Abstract

The aim of the present project is to provide a detailed description of the spatial distribution of different types of so-called ‘partitive articles’ (PAs), i.e. elements like French du/des and Italian del/dei, in several Gallo- and Italo-Romance varieties, more precisely in Switzerland and Northern Italy, namely standard French/Italian, colloquial (Swiss) French, Francoprovençal (FrPr) and Northern Italian dialects (NID). Our overall research objective is to describe the place and function of PAs, typologically highly marked and yet quite neglected elements (besides some work done on Standard French and Italian), inside the respective Romance systems of nominal determination: what are their morphological properties, what do they encode, where are they found in the sentence, how do they interact with NP-internal (e.g. quantifiers) and -external (e.g. negation) functional elements? The answers to these overarching questions will broaden our understanding of nominal determination and quantification in Indo-European languages (more specifically Romance), particularly with respect to nowadays established typological classifications like the one in Chierchia 1998c (Romance languages as number-marking languages without classifiers) and the fundamental role and syntactic locus (cf. Heycock/Zamparelli 2005, Borer 2005, Ihsane 2008, Mathieu 2014) of the count-mass distinction in the internal structure of nominals and (communicative) conceptualization (cf. Champollion/Krifka 2016). In order to answer these questions, we will mainly exploit existing databases, first, in Switzerland (OFROM: for colloquial Swiss Frenchs: Corpus oral de français de Suisse romande, ALAVAL for Francoprovençal: Atlas linguistique audiovisuel du francoprovençal valaisan) and, second, in Italy (direction in Germany) for Northern Italy (ASIt: Atlante sintattico d´Italia), completed by some fieldwork in Switzerland and Northern Italy, to set up a common database giving insights for the first time systematically into the linguistics properties and geographical distribution of different types of PAs in the Romance varieties under investigation. We will also try to answer a fundamental question of typology, this time on the level of microvariation: Why do we find them where we do?, and to propose first formal analyses of the internal structure of nominals with PAs in Romance. We believe that this first detailed comparative investigation into the observable microvariation around ‘partitive articles’ in genetically closely related languages/varieties help us understand the precise function or array of functions of this element and will establish working tools (tagset, database) for subsequent research into more Romance varieties (Francoprovençal in the Aosta valley, Occitan in France, Central and Southern Italian dialects, cf. Cardinaletti/Giusti 2016). As this research project focuses on investigating non-standard and partially endangered varieties of Romance, its importance lies also in the unravelling and documentation of unknown features of Romance varieties used in informal contexts only, which are however highly relevant to understand issues of language contact in the explanation of the distribution of grammatical features in space (Bickel 2007).
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