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Conference Information

Full Title: Advances in Diachronic Construction Grammar

Location: Zurich, Switzerland
Start Date: 10-Sep-2017 - 13-Sep-2017
Contact: Elena Smirnova
Meeting Email: click here to access email
Meeting Description: During the last decade, the constructionist approach has definitely been the fastest growing linguistic and interdisciplinary cognitive-functional approach to language (cf. Goldberg 2013: 30). Many historical linguists ''see an excellent fit between the mechanisms of syntactic change and the basic principles of Construction Grammar'' (Bartðdal & Gildea 2015: 9). Construction grammar is considered a useful descriptive tool for diachronic analysis because its architecture invites us to think ''about change in form and meaning equally, as well as the creation of and changes to links between constructions in a network'' (Traugott & Trousdale 2013: 231). As DCxG is still a very young endeavor, many theoretical questions have only been touched upon inconsistently so far. One of these fundamental questions is whether diachronic construction grammar can be a fruitful endeavor without placing cognition and psychological reality/ plausibility at the center of discussion (cf. Hilpert: forthc.)? On the one hand, DCxG's aim has been defined as the ''historical study of constructions'' (Barðdal & Gildea 2015: back cover) looking for their occurrence ''in specific types of usage events'' (Fried 2015: 140) with a rather descriptive focus. On the other hand, DCxG with a cognitive outlook focuses on psychological underpinnings and aims to ''make statements about the [internal] linguistic knowledge of earlier generations of speakers'' (Hilpert, forthc.).

Next to this question, many model-internal concepts have not been discussed explicitly enough or are simply understood differently by different researchers. Additionally, one can observe a lack of consistent terminology and annotation. However, we believe that only by hands on application, the strengths and weaknesses of a constructionalist model can be made visible for our field.

This is why the intended workshop invites speakers to collectively discuss the theoretical foundations of diachronic construction grammar by suggestions and refinements on open questions.


Lotte Sommerer (Universität Wien, English Department)
Elena Smirnova (Université de Neuchâtel, German Department)


Barðdal, Jóhanna & Spike Gildea. 2015. Diachronic Construction Grammar: Epistemological context, basic assumptions and historical implications. In Barðdal, J., Smirnova, E., Sommerer, L. & S. Gildea (eds). Diachronic Construction Grammar. Amsterdam: Benjamins, 1-50.
Goldberg, Adele. 1995. Constructions: A construction grammar approach to argument structure. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Hilpert, Martin. forthc. Three open questions in Diachronic Construction Grammar.
Smirnova, Elena. 2015. Constructionalization and constructional change: The role of context in the development of constructions. In Barðdal et al. (eds), 81-106.
Traugott, Elizabeth C. Forthc. Modeling language change with constructional networks.
Traugott, Elizabeth C. & Graeme Trousdale. 2013. Constructionalization and constructional changes. Oxford: OUP.
Van de Velde, Freek. 2014. Degeneracy: The maintenance of constructional networks. In Boogaart, R., T. Colleman & G. Rutten (eds). Extending the scope of Construction Grammar. De Gruyter, 141-180.
Linguistic Subfield: General Linguistics; Historical Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Syntax
LL Issue: 27.4235

This is a session of the following meeting:
50th Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea

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