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LINGUIST List 23.4008

Thu Sep 27 2012

Calls: Morphology, Syntax, Historical Ling, Socioling, Typology/Croatia

Editor for this issue: Alison Zaharee <alisonlinguistlist.org>

Date: 26-Sep-2012
From: Brian Joseph <joseph.1osu.edu>
Subject: Balancing the Universal and the Particular in Convergences in Balkan Morpho-Syntax
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Full Title: Balancing the Universal and the Particular in Convergences in Balkan Morpho-Syntax

Date: 18-Sep-2013 - 21-Sep-2013
Location: Split, Croatia
Contact Person: Brian Joseph
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Morphology; Sociolinguistics; Syntax; Typology

Call Deadline: 01-Nov-2012

Meeting Description:

We will be proposing a workshop for the 2013 Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea (SLE), to be held in Split, Croatia, September 18-21, with the stated theme of 'Balancing the Universal and the Particular in Convergences in Balkan Morpho-Syntax (and Beyond)'.

Call for Papers:

There will be some invited featured speakers (Petya Asenova, Victor Friedman, Andrej Sobolev, and Peter Trudgill) and presentations by the organizers, but there are slots for up to 7 additional papers, and thus we are soliciting abstracts (one page, c. 500 words, no bibliographic details necessary) for papers that fit with the theme of the workshop - see below for elaboration on the content of the theme.

Please send the abstracts via email, preferably as a pdf document, to both Brian D. Joseph (joseph.1osu.edu) and Iliana Krapova (krapovaunive.it) by no later than November 1, 2012.

Here is the description of the aims of the workshop:

In 1996, at a workshop associated with the GLOW conference in Athens, Brian Joseph, in his paper - later published as Joseph 2001 - questioned the extent to which comparative syntax involving Balkan languages was truly possible. Moreover, he drew a distinction between 'comparative syntax of Balkan languages', i.e. an exercise in cross-linguistic comparison of syntax that just happens to involve Balkan languages, and 'comparative Balkan syntax', i.e. an exercise in the comparison of contact-related convergent syntactic structures found in languages within the Balkan Sprachbund. Partly at issue in this distinction, and in the 1996 question, is the issue of what the causes are for convergences involving syntax across various Balkan languages and in particular the extent to which language contact interacts with parametric variation as determined, both synchronically and diachronically, by universal principles of grammar.

In this workshop, we propose to re-open the 1996 question and, at a distance of some 15 years, especially with the large number of advances in our understanding of language contact (as summed up in such survey works as Thomason 2001, Winford 2003, Matras 2009, and Hickey 2010), to reassess what is now known about balancing the effects of linguistic universals and the effects of language contact in convergent aspects of Balkan syntax - and related matters of grammar, e.g. morpho-syntax, syntax-semantics interface, etc. - and thus about the causes of Balkan convergence in these domains.

To that end, we pose the following questions for participants to consider:

1. Is the distinction between 'comparative Balkan syntax' and 'comparative syntax of the Balkans' a valid one? In what ways do language universals impinge on and/or affect the outcomes of language contact?

2. What are the processes of language contact that can affect the syntax of the languages in question? Are they the same processes that affect other components of a language, e.g. borrowing, calquing, interference (transfer), etc., or are there syntax-specific processes, perhaps, for example, code-switching, or processes specific to other domains of grammar?

3. Does the particular theoretical framework that is assumed by the investigator affect his/her view of the kinds of language contact effects that can be found?

4. Do the usual processes of language change, such as analogy or socially determined diffusion, play a role in Balkan morpho-syntactic convergence?

5. What is the role of bilingualism in syntactic convergence? How can we reconcile speakers' ability to keep multiple languages compartmentalized with 'spillover' effects from one language into another, such as the syntax of a word in a source language entering a borrowing language along with the word?

6. Are all aspects of morpho-syntax equally prone to being affected in language contact or do language universals 'exempt' certain parts of the morphology and the syntax from contact effects? More specifically, which are the grammatical properties and distinctions (e.g. pro-drop, word order type, etc.) that can be borrowed and which cannot be borrowed, if any.

7. Is syntactic convergence a 'deep' phenomenon, in which abstract elements and different levels of representation such as those posited in some syntactic theories come into play, or a strictly 'surface' phenomenon, in which just overt strings of words and morphemes are involved and not any deeper apparatus underlying them?

8. Is convergence at the syntax-semantics interface, e.g. with regard to interpretation involving scope, specificity, or control, subject to the effects of language contact or is 'meaning' something that remains constant in grammar across languages?

To elaborate briefly on some of these questions, regarding (2) and (3), for instance, one can wonder if a highly lexically based theory of syntax (e.g. early versions of HPSG or some varieties of LFG) means that syntactic borrowing across languages is the same sort of process as lexical borrowing across languages. Similarly, regarding (4), it has been claimed that social factors can trump structural factors in phonological contact, as Thomason and Kaufman 1988 have argued for Siberian Aleut Eskimo, but is this the case for contact involving syntax? And, as for (7), but also (5), if the syntactic properties of a word can be borrowed along with a word, can these be deep properties, determined by universal principles (or Universal Grammar) or are they limited to superficial properties such as ordering with respect to other elements? And, more generally, regarding (8), is convergence at the semantic level possible beyond lexical semantics, and can there be contact-induced convergence of more abstract properties of meaning at the sentence level?

These are the issues we seek to explore through this workshop, and we invite abstracts from researchers who address these issues with particular attention to how they are realized in the languages of the Balkans and the interactions among them.

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