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LINGUIST List 24.3832

Mon Sep 30 2013

Calls: General Linguistics/USA

Editor for this issue: Bryn Hauk <brynlinguistlist.org>

Date: 28-Sep-2013
From: Elly van Gelderen <ellyvangelderenasu.edu>
Subject: The Linguistic Cycle II
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Full Title: The Linguistic Cycle II

Date: 25-Apr-2014 - 26-Apr-2014
Location: Tempe, AZ, USA
Contact Person: Elly van Gelderen
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics

Call Deadline: 31-Oct-2013

Meeting Description:

The Linguistic Cycle Workshop II
25 – 26 April 2014, Arizona State University

The first Workshop on the Linguistic Cycle took place at Arizona State University in April 2008. We plan to do a follow-up in 2014, taking stock of progress and also to see what challenges looking at changes in a cyclical manner brings!

What is the Linguistic Cycle?

The linguistic cycle is a name used to describe language change taking place in a systematic manner and direction. Cycles involve the disappearance of a particular word and its renewal by another. Perhaps the most well-known cycle is the Negative Cycle where a negative word may be added to an already negative construction for emphasis after which the first one disappears. This new negative may itself be reinforced by another negative and may then itself disappear.

One of the most quoted descriptions of the linguistic cycle is a passage in von der Gabelentz (1901: 256). Because new cycles are not identical to old ones, one way of characterizing a cycle is as a spiral:

‘The history of language moves in the diagonal of two forces: the impulse toward comfort, which leads to the wearing down of sounds, and that toward clarity, which disallows this erosion and the destruction of the language. The affixes grind themselves down, disappear without a trace; their functions or similar ones, however, require new expression. They acquire this expression, by the method of isolating languages, through word order or clarifying words. The latter, in the course of time, undergo agglutination, erosion, and in the mean time renewal is prepared: periphrastic expressions are preferred ... always the same: the development curves back towards isolation, not in the old way, but in a parallel fashion. That's why I compare them to spirals’ (my translation, EvG).

Why a(nother) workshop?

After the Linguistic Cycle workshop that took place at Arizona State University in April 2008, we plan to do a follow-up in 2014, taking stock of progress and also to see what challenges looking at changes in a cyclical manner brings!

Venue and Guest Speaker:

The workshop will take place on the campus of Arizona State University, presumably in the LL Building. There will be information about accommodation on http://www.public.asu.edu/~gelderen/LingCyclesII.html.

The guestspeaker will be T. Givón (University of Oregon and White Cloud Ranch) who plans to speak on pronoun to agreement cycles in Ute `The PRO Cycle’ but who is also interested in other cycles, e.g. the `Dative Cycle’ and the `Parataxis to Syntaxis Cycle’.

Social Program:

There will be a conference dinner on Friday night (free for presenters). If there is enough interest, we can do a hike or trip on Saturday afternoon or Sunday.

2nd Call for Papers:

The Call for Papers has a deadline of 31 October 2013. Linguists from all theoretical backgrounds and specializations are invited to submit (2-page) abstracts on any topic connected to the linguistic cycle to ellyvangelderenasu.edu. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 15 November 2013.

Crucial descriptive questions in relation to the linguistic cycle are the following:

a. Which cycles exist and why?
b. Which semantic features need to be expressed grammatically and therefore participate in cycles?
c. Are there typical steps in a cycle; for instance, what starts a particular cycle?
d. What are the sources of renewal once a cycle has desemanticized a lexical item? At what point in the cycle does the renewing element appear?
e. Why are some changes slow and why do some categories remain semi-lexical and are unlikely to change? What’s the role of contact?

Since this workshop in 2008, the linguistic cycle has received more attention and some of the questions are starting to get answers. Although much work remains focused on the negative cycle, e.g. the one-day events on the negative cycle that took place in Birmingham , the edited volume that came out of the workshop contains chapters on the negative cycle as well as on other cycles, namely pronouns, copulas, modals, auxiliaries, and prepositions . Semantic change is getting more attention in the work Regine Eckardt, Remus Gergel, and Ashwini Deo and it and phonological change can also be thought of as cyclical (Bermúdez-Otero & Trousdale 2012 ). External reasons for accelerating or impeding the rate of change, as with other processes, need to be studied as well.

The main cycles studied so far have been:

a. Negative Cycles
b. Pronoun to agreement cycles
c. Demonstrative cycles (to copula, article, pronoun, complementizer, tense marker)
d. Verbal cycles (to tense, mood, aspect)
e. Complementizer cycles

And of course the macrocycle identified by Hodge (1970):

f. Analytic to synthetic to analytic ...

Cycles not studied as much:

g. Nominal Cycles where nouns start to mark gender and number.

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