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LINGUIST List 21.4500

Tue Nov 09 2010

Calls: Syntax, Historical Linguistics/Japan

Editor for this issue: Elyssa Winzeler <elyssalinguistlist.org>


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        1.     Jóhanna Barðdal , Reconstructing Syntax

Message 1: Reconstructing Syntax
Date: 08-Nov-2010
From: Jóhanna Barðdal <johanna.barddaluib.no>
Subject: Reconstructing Syntax
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Full Title: Reconstructing Syntax

Date: 25-Jul-2011 - 30-Jul-2011
Location: Osaka, Japan
Contact Person: Jóhanna Barðdal
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >
Web Site: http://org.uib.no/iecastp/IECASTP/Workshop8.htm

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Syntax

Call Deadline: 15-Nov-2010

Meeting Description:

Historical-comparative reconstruction has traditionally been focused on
lexical, morphological and phonological comparisons, while syntactic
reconstruction has either been systematically left unattended, regarded as
fruitless or uninteresting, or even rebuked (cf. Watkins 1964, Jeffers 1976,
Lightfoot 1979, 2006, Harrison 2003, Pires & Thomason 2008, Mengden
2008, inter alia). The reason for this is that syntactic structures have been
regarded as fundamentally different from, for instance, morphological
structures, in several respects. That is, syntactic structures are larger and
more complex units than morphological units. Semantically they have not
been regarded on par with morphological units either, in that their meaning is
regarded as the sum of the meaning of the lexical parts that instantiate them,
and because of this semantic compositionality they have not been regarded
as being arbitrary form-meaning correspondences like words. It has also been
argued in the literature that syntactic structures are not inherited in the same
way as the vocabulary (Lightfoot 1979 and later work), that there is no
cognate material to compare when comparing sentences across daughter
languages (Jeffers 1976), that there is no regularity of syntactic change, as
opposed to the regularity of phonological change (Lightfoot 2002, Pirus &
Thomason 2008), and that there is no arbitrariness found in syntax (Harrison
2003), all of which render syntactic reconstruction fundamentally different
from phonological reconstruction.

Recent work within historical-comparative syntax takes issue with this view
of syntactic reconstruction (Kikusawa 2003, Harris 2008, Bauern 2008,
Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal 2010), arguing that the concepts of
'cognate status,' 'arbitrariness' and 'regularity' are non-problematic for
syntactic reconstruction. This is so, first, because cognates are also found in
syntax (Kikusawa 2003, Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal 2010). Second,
because the arbitrariness requirement is simply not needed in syntax, as its
role is first and foremost to aid in deciding on genetic relatedness, which is
usually not an issue when doing syntactic reconstruction (Harrison 2003,
Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal 2010). And, third, because a) the sound
laws are only regular by definition (Hoenigswald 1987), and b) the sound laws
are basically stand-ins for a similarity metric when deciding upon cognate
status (Harrison 2003).

It has also recently been claimed (cf. Barðdal & Eythórsson 2009, Barðdal
2010) that Construction Grammar is more easily extendible to syntactic
reconstruction than other frameworks, due to the basic status of form-
meaning/function pairings in that framework. This creates a natural leap from
synchronic form-meaning pairings to historical reconstruction, based on form-
meaning pairings.

Please see http://org.uib.no/iecastp/IECASTP/Workshop8.htm for complete
list of references.

Final Call For Papers

ICHL-20 in Osaka, Japan, 24-30 July 2011
Workshop title: Reconstructing Syntax
URL: http://org.uib.no/iecastp/IECASTP/Workshop8.htm

Organizers: Jóhanna Barðdal, University of Bergen & Spike Gildea,
University of Oregon

The workshop description is available at
org.uib.no/iecastp/IECASTP/Workshop8.htm

This ICHL workshop aims at accommodating contributions including, but not
limited to, the following:

- The fundamental issues of reconstruction in general and syntactic
reconstruction in particular
- Individual case studies of syntactic reconstruction from different languages
and language families
- A comparison of how different theoretical frameworks may contribute to
syntactic reconstruction

Please send your abstracts of 500 words or less to Jóhanna Barðdal
(Johanna.Barddaluib.no), no later
than November 15th 2010, preferably in pdf-format. A response on abstracts
will be sent out on December 15th 2010.



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