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LINGUIST List 18.2407

Tue Aug 14 2007

Calls: Historical Ling/Germany

Editor for this issue: Ania Kubisz <anialinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Juerg Fleischer, Comparing Diachronies (Workshop at DGfS 2008)

Message 1: Comparing Diachronies (Workshop at DGfS 2008)
Date: 14-Aug-2007
From: Juerg Fleischer <germlingconfkcl.ac.uk>
Subject: Comparing Diachronies (Workshop at DGfS 2008)
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Full Title: Comparing Diachronies (Workshop at DGfS 2008)

Date: 27-Feb-2008 - 29-Feb-2008
Location: Bamberg, Germany
Contact Person: Juerg Fleischer
Meeting Email: germlingconfkcl.ac.uk

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Call Deadline: 20-Aug-2007

Meeting Description

Workshop as part of the 29th Annual Meeting of the German Society for
Linguistics (DGfS) at the University of Bamberg, Germany (27th-29th February, 2008)

Comparing Diachronies

Second Call for Papers

Jürg Fleischer (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin)
Horst Simon (King's College London)

Keynote Speakers:
Bernd Heine (University of Cologne)
Giuseppe Longobardi (University of Trieste)

Assessing the relative importance of internal and external factors is of
paramount importance for any theory of language change. While it is the aim of
the study of internal factors to identify correlations between diachronic
developments belonging to different subsystems (e.g., loss of case morphology
entails fixation of word order), in studying external factors one tries to
establish the influence of language contact, normative settings, etc. However,
explanations of actual language change phenomena often stick to their particular
problems. Only rarely do researchers attempt at generalizations that go beyond
individual cases. Thus, in our view one central question for any theory of
language change is:

Couldn't things have developed in an entirely different way?

Our workshop ''Comparing Diachronies'' tries to fill a gap: By comparing various
diachronic developments we hope to identify differences and divergences that
allow for generalizable insights with respect to the functioning and
implementation of linguistic change.
In this perspective, research topics such as the following become interesting:
- In the history of English (similar in French), older tendencies to use
verb-second were given up, whereas in German the original tendency eventually
led to the generalization of verb-second in main clauses.
- In High German the tense system was reduced, whereas Low German reduced its
mood system.
- Only in High German do we find affricates, a class of phonemes foreign to
other West Germanic languages.
- In some Romance languages (e.g. Spanish), animate direct objects are marked
with the preposition normally used with indirect objects, a development which is
completely unknown in other Romance languages (e.g. French).
- Punjabi and Marathi have reduced the original Indo-Aryan ergative marking on
some personal pronouns (Bengali and Sinhala have done so completely), while in
other languages (e.g. Hindi/Urdu and Nepali) these pronouns have retained their
ergative morphology.
- Some Nakh-Dagestan languages have a phoneme system with only three vowels
(e.g. Avar dialects), whereas others display as many as 33 vowels (e.g. Chechen).

We invite contributions discussing language change phenomena of all linguistic
subsystems in a comparative perspective. Papers relating to different dialects
of a single language or to different languages of a larger genetic entity are as
welcome as work comparing developments in unrelated languages. Contributions
focusing on theoretical accounts or on modeling language change are especially

There will be talks in 30 and 60 minute slots, including discussion time. Note
that contributors can present only one paper at the DGfS Annual Meeting as a
whole. Conference languages are English and German. Please send an anonymous
abstract of max. 500 words, as a Word- or pdf- file, to


by Aug 20th, 2007.

Notification of acceptance or rejection will be sent by email in September.

For further information please contact:
Jürg Fleischer or
Horst Simon

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