LINGUIST List 20.3546|
Wed Oct 21 2009
Calls: Historical Ling, Ling Theories, Syntax, Semantics /Lithuania
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Subject and Transitivity in Indo-European and Beyond: A Diachronic Typological Perspective
Message 1: Subject and Transitivity in Indo-European and Beyond: A Diachronic Typological Perspective
From: Ilja Serzants <ilja.serzantsuib.no>
Subject: Subject and Transitivity in Indo-European and Beyond: A Diachronic Typological Perspective
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Full Title: Subject and Transitivity in Indo-European and Beyond: A Diachronic
Date: 02-Sep-2010 - 05-Sep-2010
Location: Vilnius, Lithuania
Contact Person: Leonid Kulikov, Ilya Serzants
Meeting Email: L.Kulikovhum.leidenuniv.nl or ilja.serzantsuib.no
Web Site: http://www.flf.vu.lt/sle2010/first_call
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Linguistic Theories; Semantics;
Language Family(ies): Indo-European
Call Deadline: 07-Nov-2009
We are planning to organize the workshop.
Workshop "Subject and Transitivity in Indo-European and Beyond: A Diachronic
Typological Perspective" at the 43rd annual Meeting of Societas Linguistica
Europaea (SLE) Vilnius, 2-5 September 2010 (http://www.flf.vu.lt/sle2010/first_call)
Leonid Kulikov (Leiden University) and Ilya Seržant (University of Bergen)
Contact emails: L.Kulikovhum.leidenuniv.nl, ilja.serzantsuib.no
Call for Papers
The workshop proposal (including a preliminary list of participants and the
topics of their papers) should be submitted to the SLE organizers before
November 15, 2009. Therefore we ask potential participants to send us the
provisional titles of their presentations (with a draft abstract) no later than
Abstracts should be submitted by the end of December.
The recent decades are marked with a considerable progress in the study of
grammatical relations (subject, object) and their relationships with
transitivity (see, among others, Hopper & Thompson 1980; Kittilä 2002; Næss
2007). Impressive results are achieved both in the study of the notion of
prototypical transitive and intransitive clauses, with canonical subject and
object marking (see, in particular, Aikhenvald et al. 2001; Bhaskararao &
Subbarao 2004), and in the research of intermediary, 'quasi-transitive'
('quasi-intransitive') types, often correlating with non-canonical encoding of
the core relations (non-nominative subjects etc.). Meticulous research of
subject properties has discovered an amazing variety of criteria of subjecthood
that can be used as a powerful tool for detecting (non-canonical) subjects and,
virtually, to arrive at a more adequate definition of subject.
Indo-European languages are particularly notorious for their diversity of
non-canonical subject marking, ranking from nominative (standard), to dative,
genitive, accusative etc., as in Icelandic (1) (see, among others, Barđdal
2001), Lithuanian (2a), Polish (Holvoet 1991), or Bengali (Onishi 2001):
Mér likar þessi tilgáta
I:DAT like:PRES:3SG this hypothesis
'I like this hypothesis.'
a. Man uo lietaus sušalo rankos
I:DAT because of rain freeze:PAST:3SG hand:NOM.PL
'My hands became frozen because of rain.'
While the synchronic study of subject and transitivity in Indo-European
languages (and beyond) has furnished detailed descriptions of syntactic
patterns, inventories of features and types and valuable cross-linguistic
observations, little attention was paid to the diachronic aspects of the
phenomena in question. We cannot yet explain why and how the non-canonical
subject marking emerges and disappears, how does it correlate with changes in
the system of transitivity types. Correlations between different transitivity
types and the status of the syntactic arguments (in particular, their
subject/object properties) can be illustrated with the Lithuanian example in
(2b). In contrast with (2a), it instantiates a higher degree of control of the
subject over the situation, and the canonical subject marking is in correlation
with the whole construction becoming more transitive as compared to (2a)
b. (Kol ėjau į universitetą,) sušalau rankas,
(While I was going to university) freeze:PAST:1SG hand:ACC.PL
(nes visą kelią spaudžiau sniegą rankose.)
(because all the way I pressed snow in the hands)
'While I was going to the university, I froze up my hands, because all the way I
pressed snow in the hands.'
Thus, of particular interest are such constructions where we observe increase of
transitivity correlating with the increase of subject (and object) properties of
the core argument(s). This is the case with the North Russian 'possessive
perfect' constructions, as in (3), which originates in possessive construction
of the mihi-est type with the passive participle (cf. Kuteva & Heine 2004), and
attests acquiring subject properties by the oblique 'possessor' noun (Timberlake
(3) U nego korov-a / korov-u podojen-o
at he:GEN cow-NOM / cow-ACC milk:PART.PERF.PASS-SG.N
'He has milked the cow.'
Another issue relevant for a diachronic typological study of subject and
transitivity is the evolution of alignment systems. The developments in the
system of subject-marking and expansion of non-canonical subjects, typically
accompanied by rearrangements of transitivity types, may open the way to
dramatic changes in the type of alignment - for instance, from
nominative-accusative to ergative-absolutive (as in Indo-Iranian), or from
ergative-absolutive to nominative-accusative (as it was, presumably, the case in
Proto-Indo-European, according to some hypotheses; cf. Bauer 2001 and Bavant
2008, among others). The relationships between these syntactic phenomenon are
not yet sufficiently studied. In particular, our knowledge of the subject and
transitivity features of the Indo-European proto-language is still quite limited
(see Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009).
Indo-European languages, with their well-documented history and long tradition
of historical and comparative research, offer a particularly rich opportunity
for a diachronic typological study of the above-listed issues (see Barđdal 2001
on Icelandic). One of the first research projects concentrating on the
diachronic aspects of these phenomena started in 2008 in Bergen, under the
general guidance of J. Barđdal (see http://ling.uib.no/IECASTP).
The idea of our workshop is to bring together scholars interested in comparative
research on subject and transitivity in Indo-European and to open up new
horizons in the study of these phenomena, paying special attention to its
diachronic aspects. While the workshop concentrates mainly on evidence from
Indo-European, papers on non-Indo-European languages which could be relevant for
a diachronic typological study of the issues in question will also be welcome.
The issues to be addressed include, among others:
- theoretical and descriptive aspects of a study of subject and transitivity:
1. criteria for subjecthood and subject properties in Indo-European
2. features of transitivity and transitivity types in Indo-European; how to
define transitivity in constructions with non-canonical subjects and/or objects?
- mechanisms of the rise or disappearance of non-canonical subject-marking
- evolution of transitivity and changes in the inventory of transitivit types in
the history of Indo-European
- relationships between subject marking and transitivity types: evolution of
subject-marking with different semantic classes of verbs
- the main evolutionary types (from the point of view of subject marking and
transitivity types) attested for Indo-European
- subject and changes in the type of alignment: the emergence of ergativity out
of constructions with non-canonical subject
- voice, valency-changing categories and subject marking: their relationships in
a diachronic perspective
Leonid Kulikov, Leiden University
Ilya Seržant, University of Bergen
Aikhenvald. A.Y. et al. (eds) 2001. Non-canonical marking of subjects and
objects. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Barðdal, J. 2001. Case in Icelandic: A Synchronic, Diachronic and Comparative
Approach. Lund: Dept. of Scandinavian Languages, Lund University.
Barðdal, J. & Eythórsson, Th. 2009. The Origin of the Oblique Subject
Construction: An Indo-European Comparison. In: V. Bubeník et al. (eds),
Grammatical Change in Indo-European Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins,
Bauer, B. 2001. Archaic syntax in Indo-European: the spread of transitivity in
Latin and French. Berlin: Mouton.
Bavant, M. 2008. Proto-Indo-European ergativity... still to be discussed.
Poznań Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 44/4: 433-447.
Bhaskararao, P. & Subbarao, K. V. (eds) 2004. Non-nominative Subjects. 2 vols.
Holvoet, A. 1991. Transitivity and clause structure in Polish: a study in case
marking. Warszawa: Slawistyczny Osśrodek Wydawniczy.
Holvoet, A. 2009: Difuziniai subjektai ir objektai. In: A. Holvoet & R.
Mikulskas (eds), Gramatinių funkcijų prigimtis ir raiška. Vilnius: Vilniaus
universitetas & Asociacija „Academia Salensis", 37-68.
Hopper, P. & Thompson, S. 1980. Transitivity in Grammar and Discourse. Language
Kittilä, S. 2002. Transitivity: toward a comprehensive typology. Åbo: Åbo
Kuteva, T. & Heine, B. 2004. On the possessive perfect in North Russian. Word
Næss, Å. 2007. Prototypical transitivity. Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Onishi, M. 2001. Non-canonically marked A/S in Bengali. In: A.Y. Aikhenvald et
al. (eds), Non-canonical marking of subjects and objects. Amsterdam: Benjamins,
Seržant, I. A. forthc. Lability across oblique subject predicates in Baltic. In:
L. Kulikov & N. Lavidas (eds), Typology of labile verbs: Focus on diachrony.
Timberlake, A. 1976. Subject properties in the North Russian Passive. In: Ch. N.
Li (ed.), Subject and Topic. New York: Academic Press, 545-594.
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