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LINGUIST List 22.2148

Fri May 20 2011

Confs: Typology, Syntax, Niger-Congo, Sino-Tibetan/Hong Kong

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

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        1.     Umberto Ansaldo , Workshop on Analyticity

Message 1: Workshop on Analyticity
Date: 17-May-2011
From: Umberto Ansaldo <uansaldogmail.com>
Subject: Workshop on Analyticity
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Workshop on Analyticity
Short Title: Sino-Kwa II

Date: 20-Jul-2011 - 20-Jul-2011
Location: The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Contact: Umberto Ansaldo
Contact Email: < click here to access email >
Meeting URL: http://www.hku.hk/linguist/alt9/Home.html

Linguistic Field(s): Syntax; Typology

Language Family(ies): Niger-Congo; Sino-Tibetan

Meeting Description:

Despite the fact that the term has been around for close to two centuries now, it is still not entirely clear what kind of language we are talking about when we talk about 'analytic languages' (or, 'isolating languages'). There is some pre-theoretical understanding of what is meant, such as that analytic languages have no morphology, but this is not quite correct, unless we understand 'morphology' as 'inflectional morphology', but even then, the claim is debatable. In very general terms we could say that, descriptively, an analytic language is more transparent than a so-called 'synthetic' language, where 'transparent' is to be understood as that there is a tendency to realize one-to-one relationships between form and meaning/function. Whether these forms are free or attached to other (lexical) elements seems to be of lesser importance. Meaning/function is both lexical (meaning) and grammatical (function). What this means is that every aspect of lexical and grammatical meaning is associated with a separate morph. As a consequence, such languages will not have single elements which express a combination of properties (e.g., definiteness + gender + number). While this definition steers us away from morphological issues, it raises others.

The presentations in this panel show that a research program into the nature of analytic languages necessarily has two sides to it. First, we need to make an inventory of properties which seem to be typical of analytic languages (this seems circular, but does not have to be). Features such as tone, serialization, discourse particles are among the features often attributed to analytic languages. The question is whether these are merely superficial similarities or whether they point towards fundamental, shared properties that define an 'analytic' type? Secondly, and at the same time, we need to investigate the question why in some languages many of these properties cluster together. One hypothesis one could wish to explore is the idea that functional heads in such languages may not enforce any movement of other functional heads towards them, so that we do not find several grammatical functions combined onto one single element. Or is it the case that, despite the apparent similarities between languages of this type, there are no profound, shared structural similarities?

Workshop on Analyticity
The University of Hong Kong
Main Building, Room G07
July 20, 2011
Start: 2PM
End: 6PM

1. Walter Bisang: 'Isolation as an area-specific epiphenomenon that cannot be transferred easily to other languages'
2. Lisa Cheng, Enoch Aboh and Leston Buell: 'Word order within the noun phrase: Gungbe vs. Mandarin'
3. Rint Sybesma and Enoch Aboh: 'Tense in the C-domain'
4. Linda Badan: ''Dummy' objects and verbs in Ewe and Mandarin'
5. Summary and discussion (Chair: U. Ansaldo)

For abstracts and further details, visit: http://www.hku.hk/linguist/alt9/Home.html.

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