LINGUIST List 24.5305

Wed Dec 18 2013

Calls: Himalayan Languages, Historical Linguistics, Typology/Poland

Editor for this issue: Bryn Hauk <>

Date: 18-Dec-2013
From: Krzysztof Stroński <>
Subject: Language Contact and Structural Isomorphism in the Himalayan Region
E-mail this message to a friend

Full Title: Language Contact and Structural Isomorphism in the Himalayan Region
Date: 11-Sep-2014 - 14-Sep-2014 Location: Poznań, Poland Contact Person: Krzysztof Stroński
Meeting Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics; Typology

Language Family(ies): Indo-Aryan; Tibeto-Burman

Call Deadline: 15-Jan-2014

Meeting Description:

It has been generally assumed that a linguistic area arises through intense contact-induced changes which involve structural inference (Thomason 2001). Since the pioneering paper by Emenau (1956) there have been many attempts (cf. Masica 1976; 2001; Ebert 2001 among many others) to select areal features which are shared among languages spoken in South Asia. However there has been little consent on the number of such features and the possible direction of their spread.

The research on possible structural interferences has been focused mainly on their antiquity since it has always been assumed that they could only occur through the intense contact over a long period of time. The literature mentions e.g. Dravidian influence on early IA (postulated by Emenau (1956; 1974) and challenged e.g. by Hock (1975), Proto-Burushaski influence on IA (Klimov 1973 and later Tikkanen 1988), Tibetan influence on IA (especially Dardic and Pahari cf. Zakharyin 1982), Afroasiatic influence on Tibeto-Burman and adjacent Indo-Aryan (Tikkanen 1988) to name just a few of them.

However, after a long lasting debate it seems that the possible solution to the problem of defining a linguistic area is an isogloss-based approach which takes into consideration a wider distribution of a feature and a smaller region displaying high density of shared structural traits. In such a ‘restricted’ approach, linguistic areas are perceived as outcomes of an intersection of isoglosses (Masica 2001; Matras 2009).

The present workshop will not aim at defining linguistic area(s) but rather at highlighting problems of language contact and contact-induced structural changes which have occurred and still occur in the Himalayan region. There have been already many single features mentioned in the literature (e.g. the borrowing of case markers in Shina (cf. Hook 1991)) and there have been attempts to demonstrate the stability of selected syntactic patterns across two major language families such as IA and TB (cf. Bickel 1999). What is more, there are areal features which have not found any reasonable explanation so far, e.g. the genitive subjects in Western Pahari (cf. Zoller 2008) or features found in IA and TB alike, such as vertical case, evidentiality marking on verbs, and morphological valence-changing morphology (Noonan 2003). Therefore, it seems that more research is necessary in order to understand the peculiarities of this area which proves to be linguistically very diverse.

Call for Papers:

We invite contributions touching on different kinds of contact-induced isomorphism in the Himalayan zone, whether in the area of phonology, morphology or syntax. We are particularly interested in contributions that have the scope of an area or region encompassing several languages and that make an attempt at generalizations, where an important aspect would be to separate contact-induced convergence from inheritance or more universal phenomena. We would especially value contributions involving studies of lesser-described languages of this region, taking a variety of perspectives (such as synchronic, diachronic or typological) into account.

Workshop Organizers:

Henrik Liljegren, Stockholm University (

Page Updated: 18-Dec-2013