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LINGUIST List 21.3577

Thu Sep 09 2010

Calls: Historical Ling/Japan

Editor for this issue: Di Wdzenczny <dilinguistlist.org>

LINGUIST is pleased to announce the launch of an exciting new feature: Easy Abstracts! Easy Abs is a free abstract submission and review facility designed to help conference organizers and reviewers accept and process abstracts online. Just go to: http://www.linguistlist.org/confcustom, and begin your conference customization process today! With Easy Abstracts, submission and review will be as easy as 1-2-3!
        1.    Muriel Norde, Exaptation

Message 1: Exaptation
Date: 07-Sep-2010
From: Muriel Norde <m.norderug.nl>
Subject: Exaptation
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Full Title: Exaptation

Date: 25-Jul-2011 - 30-Jul-2011
Location: Osaka, Japan
Contact Person: Muriel Norde
Meeting Email: m.norderug.nl

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics

Call Deadline: 13-Sep-2010

Meeting Description:

Workshop on exaptation at the 20th International Conference on Historical
Linguistics 2011

Call For Papers

Convenors: Muriel Norde (University of Groningen) & Freek Van de Velde
(University of Leuven)

This is a proposal for a workshop on exaptation at ICHL 2011 (Osaka,
Japan). As workshop proposals to ICHL should include a preliminary list of
participants, we are posting the workshop description to see if there is
sufficient interest in the topic. Therefore, please send us an e-mail, before
September 13th, if you are interested; no title or abstract is required at this

Workshop description

Although some morphological changes seem to obey general tendencies,
as formulated for instance by Kury?owicz or Ma?czak (see Hock 1986,
ch.10) or Van Loon (2005), most of these tendencies can just as easily be
violated. Diachronic morphology is largely idiosyncratic (Joseph 1998).
Morphological paradigms appear to be ripped up at random in order to
establish 'local generalizations' (Joseph 1992). One particular way in which
unpredictable changes come about is through 'bricolage' with junk
morphology, which goes under the name of exaptation (Lass 1990, 1997:

Exaptation is a concept that was first used in evolutionary biology, to refer
to co-optation of a certain trait for a new function. A typical example is the
use of feathers, originally serving a thermo-regulatory function, for flight. In
linguistics, exaptation is defined as follows:

'Say a language has a grammatical distinction of some sort, coded by
means of morphology. Then say this distinction is jettisoned, PRIOR TO the
loss of the morphological material that codes it. This morphology is now,
functionally speaking, junk; and there are three things that can in principle
be done with it:
(i) it can be dumped entirely;
(ii) it can be kept as marginal garbage or nonfunctional/nonexpressive
residue (suppletion, 'irregularity');
(iii) it can be kept, but instead of being relegated as in (ii), it can
be used for something else, perhaps just as systematic.(...)
Option (iii) is linguistic exaptation.'' (Lass 1990: 81-82)

Lass originally understood exaptation in a rather narrow sense. First, the
term exaptation was reserved for changes affecting functionless (or 'junk')
morphology. Second, in order to qualify as exaptation, the new function of a
morpheme needed to be entirely novel. In Lass's own words: 'Exaptation
then is the opportunistic co-optation of a feature whose origin is unrelated
or only marginally related to its later use. In other words (loosely) a
'conceptual novelty' or 'invention'.'

Both criteria have been criticized. With regard to the first criterion, Vincent
(1995: 435), Giacalone Ramat (1998), Smith (2006) and Willis (ms.) pointed
out difficulties with regard to the notion of junk. And indeed, Lass later
stretched his notion of exaptation, admitting that linguistic exaptation - just
like biological exaptation - could also affect non-junk morphology (see Lass
1997: 318), to the effect that the old and the new function may co-exist.
Doubt has also been raised with regard to the second criterion, the novelty
of the new function, which is central to the notion of exaptation according to
Lass (1990: 82) (see also Norde 2001: 244, 2009: 117 and Traugott 2004).
Some scholars have argued against the purported novelty of the function
after exaptation (Vincent 1995: 436; Giacalone Ramat 1998, Hopper &
Traugott 2003: 135-136). If this criterion is jettisoned, we arrive at a fairly
broad definition of exaptation, like for instance in Booij (2010: 211), who
defines it as '[t]he re-use of morphological markers'. Such a broad
conception of exaptation is in line with the notion in evolutionary biology,
where neither of the two criteria is decisive for the application of the term to
shifts in function, but the question then arises whether this does not make
the concept vacuous (see De Cuypere 2005).

Despite these criticisms, exaptation has been used as a convenient label for
morphological changes that at first sight seem to proceed unpredictably,
e.g. by running counter to grammaticalization clines (see Norde 2009: 115-
118). It has been applied to various cases of morphological change,
discussed in Lass (1990), Norde (2002), Fudeman (2004), Van de Velde
(2005, 2006), Narrog (2007), Booij (2010, ms.), Willis (ms.) among others.

In this workshop, we aim to come to terms with exaptation. Apart from
specific case studies drawing on original data, we welcome papers that
address the following issues:

(1) Do we need exaptation in diachronic morphology, or does it reduce to
more traditional mechanisms such as reanalysis and analogy, as e.g. De
Cuypere (2005) argues?
(2) Does exaptation only apply to morphology (Heine 2003: 173), or is it
relevant to syntactic change as well, as Brinton & Stein (1995) have
(3) Does exaptation presuppose irregularity and unpredictability? If so, does
this entail that exaptation is language-specific (as argued by Heine 2003:
173), and that cross-linguistics generalizations are not possible? See,
however, Narrog (2007) for evidence to the contrary.
(4) Does exaptation happen primarily in cases of 'system disruption', such
as typological word order change or deflection (see Norde 2002: 49, 60,
(5) How should we define the concept of 'novelty', and is it a useful
criterion for a change to be qualified as exaptation? Currently, there seem
to be different views in the literature on what is exactly understood by a
'new' function. Does this mean (a) an entirely new category in the grammar,
(b) a function unrelated to the morpheme's old function, or (c) a different
though perhaps not totally unrelated function from the old function?
(6) Is exaptation infrequent (Heine 2003:174, Traugott 2004) and
non-recurrent (as argued by Heine 2003: 172)? Or can one morpheme
undergo several successive stages of exaptation (as argued by Giacalone
Ramat 1998: 110-111 with regard to the -sk- suffix and by Van de Velde
2006 with regard to the Germanic adjective inflection)?
(7) What is the relation between exaptation and grammaticalization? Do
they refer to fundamentally different kinds of changes (Vincent 1995), is
exaptation a final stage of grammaticalization (Greenberg 1991, Traugott
2004), or are exaptation and grammaticalization just two different labels for
the same type of change? After all, both processes involve reanalysis
(Narrog 2007), both processes can come about through pragmatic
strengthening (see Croft 2000: 126-130). Furthermore, if the old and new
function of the exaptatum co-exist (see above) and if the new function is
related to the old one, then exaptation involves 'layering' and 'persistence',
respectively (see Van de Velde 2006: 61-62), which are also key features of
grammaticalization (see Hopper 1991).
(8) What is the relation between exaptation and degrammaticalization?
Does exaptation always entail some sort of 'degrammaticalization' (as
argued by Heine 2003 and arguably Narrog 2007: 9, 18), or does
exaptation often, but not always, go together with degrammaticalization
(Norde 2009: 118)?
(9) Is exaptation the same thing as what Greenberg (1991) understands by
'regrammaticalization' and as what Croft (2000) understands by
'hypoanalysis', or are there significant differences between these concepts?
And what is the overlap with related concept such as 'functional renewal'
(Brinton & Stein 1995)?


Booij, G. 2010 (to appear). Construction morphology. Oxford: Oxford
University Press.
Booij, G. manuscript. Recycling morphology: Case endings as markers of
Dutch constructions.
Brinton, L. & D. Stein. 1995. Functional renewal. In: H. Andersen (ed.),
Historical Linguistics 1993. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 33-47.
Croft, W. 2000. Explaining language change. An evolutionary approach.
Harlow: Longman.
De Cuypere, L. 2005. Exploring exaptation in language change. Folia
Linguistica Historica 26: 13-26.
Fudeman, K. 2004. Adjectival agreement vs. adverbal inflection in Balanta.
Lingua 114: 105-23.
Giacalone Ramat, A. 1998. Testing the boundaries of grammaticalization. In:
A.Giacalone Ramat & P.J. Hopper (eds.), The limits of grammaticalization.
Amsterdam: Benjamins. 227-270.
Greenberg, J.H. 1991. The last stages of grammatical elements: Contractive
and expansive desemanticization. In: E.C. Traugott & B. Heine (eds.),
Approaches to grammaticalization. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 301-314.
Heine, B. 2003. On degrammaticalization. In: B.J. Blake & K. Burridge
Historical linguistics 2001. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 163-179.
Hock, H.H. 1986. Principles of historical linguistics. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Hopper, P.J. 1991. On some principles of grammaticalization. In: E.C.
Traugott & B. Heine (eds.), Approaches to grammaticalization. Amsterdam:
Benjamins. 17-35.
Hopper, P.J. & E.C. Traugott. 2003. Grammaticalization. 2nd edn.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Joseph, B.D. 1992. Diachronic explanation: Putting the speaker back into
the picture. In: G.W. Davis & G.K. Iverson (eds.), Explanations in historical
linguistics. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 123-144.
Joseph, B.D. 1998. Diachronic morphology. In: A. Spencer & A.M. Zwicky
(eds.), Handbook of morphology. Oxford: Blackell. 351-373.
Lass, R. 1990. How to do things with junk: Exaptation in language evolution.
Journal of Linguistics 26: 79-102.
Lass, R. 1997. Historical linguistics and language change. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Narrog, H. 2007. Exaptation, grammaticalization, and reanalysis. California
Linguistic Notes 32 (1). .
Norde, M. 2001. Deflexion as a counterdirectional factor in grammatical
change. Language Sciences 23: 231-264.
Norde, M. 2002. The final stages of grammaticalization: Affixhood and
beyond. In: I. Wischer & G. Diewald (eds.), New reflections on
grammaticalization. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 45-81.
Norde, M. 2009. Degrammaticalization. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Smith, J.C. 2006. How to do things without junk: the refunctionalization of a
pronominal subsystem between Latin and Romance. In: J.-P.Y. Montreuil
(ed.), New perspectives on Romance linguistics. Volume II: Phonetics,
phonology and dialectology. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 183-205.
Traugott, E.C. 2004. Exaptation and grammaticalization. In: M. Akimoto
(ed.),Linguistic studies based on corpora. Tokyo: Hituzi Syobo. 133-156.
Van de Velde, F. 2005. Exaptatie en subjectificatie in de Nederlandse
adverbiale morfologie [Exaptation and subjectification in Dutch adverbial
morphology]. Handelingen der Koninklijke Zuid-Nederlandse Maatschappij
voor Taal- en Letterkunde en Geschiedenis 58: 105-124.
Van de Velde, F. 2006. Herhaalde exaptatie. Een diachrone analyse van de
Germaanse adjectiefflexie [Iterative exaptation. A diachronic analysis of the
Germanic adjectival inflection]. In: M. H√ľning, A. Verhagen, U. Vogl & T. van
der Wouden (eds.), Nederlands tussen Duits en Engels. Leiden: Stichting
Neerlandistiek Leiden. 47-69.
Van Loon, J. 2005. Principles of historical morphology. Heidelberg:
Universitätsverlag Winter.
Vincent, N. 1995. Exaptation and grammaticalization. In: H. Andersen (ed.),
Historical linguistics 1993. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 433-445.
Willis, D. Manuscript. Degrammaticalization and obsolescent morphology:
Evidence from Slavonic.
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