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Conference Information

Full Title: Diachrony & Subordination. Theory and Corpus Analysis

Location: San Antonio, Texas, USA
Start Date: 31-Jul-2017 - 04-Aug-2017
Contact: Lukasz Jedrzejowski
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting URL:
Meeting Description: Since the end of the 1980s, interest in historical discourse pragmatics and in the rise and change of clause connection has been intensifying, partly due to the interest in subjectification (following Traugott 1989 and subsequent work), partly because of interest in the rise of subordinating connectives (complementizers, conjunctions) and subordination patterns (clausal complementation and adverbial subordination; e.g. Deutscher 2000 or Axel 2012), but also because of purported inverse developments subsumed under insubordination (Evans 2007). However, typological accounts and diachronic in-depth studies devoted to specific languages have seldom, to date, experienced cross-fertilization. Proposals as to how to treat subordination cross-linguistically have either been largely restricted to synchronic typology (e.g., Givón 1980; Dixon & Aikhenvald 2006; 2009; Noonan 20072; van Lier 2009; Bril 2010; Schmidtke-Bode 2014), or they have been formulated only in cognitive-communicative terms (e.g., Cristofaro 2003), so that they usually do not tell us how to establish and analyze structural change and, ironically, have only occasionally proved useful in diachronic investigations (Ganenkov 2015). In addition, in light of Haspelmath’s recent work on ‘comparative concepts’ (Haspelmath 2010), we should ask what criteria are cross-linguistically and panchronically most important for gauging subordination across languages and periods. Beyond that, a need is felt for annotation in historical corpora that allows analysts to handle variation and that does not force them to make decisions based on preconceived categories (cf. Curzan 2009 for an overview of selected issues).

The workshop will seek a link between a theory of clause combining in diachronic change and the preparation of corpora that help linguists to interpret variation. As the most significant questions to be addressed, we see the following:

1. Which processes are involved in the formation of subordination in clause combining? In particular, how do reanalysis, exaptation (i.e. exploitation of fossilized relic forms), analogy (first of all, in paradigmatic tightening), and morphological coalescence interact? How is (micro-)variation in historical stages to be evaluated? To what extent do structural changes and differences in syntactic status (i.e. heterosemy) correlate with semantic changes, both in the sense of conventionalization of invited inferences (inferred > coded meaning) and in types of polysemy and difference of meaning ranges?

2. How should corpora be annotated in order to optimize an analysis of the processes mentioned in 1.? In general, how should corpora be annotated so that the analyst is not forced to make decisions concerning syntactic structures and category membership of particular units (particle vs. complementizer or cliticized vs. agglutinated vs. no longer transparent?) or their functions if the primary data allow for different decisions? That is, syntactically or semantically ambiguous (or vague) structures and status should be annotated as such, variation should not be artificially diminished by forced coding decisions which would skew further analyses, especially if frequency counts are involved and results are quantified. How, in general, should corpora be annotated to allow for multivariate statistical analyses? How should vagueness and ambiguity in the syntax and in the meaning/function of connectives be annotated?

These two groups of questions connect theoretical questions related to diachronic morphosyntax and the semantics-pragmatics interface with methodological challenges whose solution is crucial for an adequate approach to the empirical basis necessary to test hypotheses and for data-mining.
Linguistic Subfield: Computational Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Semantics; Syntax; Text/Corpus Linguistics
LL Issue: 27.3423

This is a session of the following meeting:
International Conference on Historical Linguistics 23

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