LINGUIST List 31.3010

Mon Oct 05 2020

Confs: Cog Sci, Hist Ling, Lang Acq, Psycholing, Syntax/Greece

Editor for this issue: Lauren Perkins <>

Date: 05-Oct-2020
From: Michael Percillier <>
Subject: Cognitive mechanisms driving contact-induced language change
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Cognitive mechanisms driving contact-induced language change

Date: 31-Aug-2021 - 03-Sep-2021
Location: National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece
Contact: Michael Percillier
Contact Email: < click here to access email >

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science; Historical Linguistics; Language Acquisition; Psycholinguistics; Syntax

Meeting Description:

The workshop focuses on contact-induced change on the level of syntax or at the interface of syntax with other levels (e.g. argument structure, aspect, word formation, information structure etc). This orientation comes from the research project ''Borrowing of argument structure in contact situations'' (BASICS, where we have been investigating the extent to which Old French had an influence on the grammar of Middle English. In this workshop we would like to extend our focus to the cognitive factors relevant for language change and acquisition, such as, for example, frequency, structural priming, level of awareness, salience, analogy, ambiguity, chunking (see the contributions in Hundt et al. 2017). These factors originate from mental ''capacities as memory, pattern recognition, abstraction, generalization, and routinization of repeated tasks'' (Mithun 2003, 552).

Recent research has only started investigating how these mechanisms relate to historical language change. Frequency and especially the frequency of contextualized variants might allow inferences about language change in the past (Hilpert 2017, 67). Chunking entails changes in the analysability and compositionality of the given expression, and might therefore be intimately related to language change, especially in terms of grammaticalization (Bybee 2010; Bybee & Moder 2017). A low degree of salience of certain linguistic elements has been observed to favour morpho-syntactic change, whereas high salience has been judged implausible as a trigger (Traugott 2017, 102; 108). Also, it is not entirely clear whether (and how) the concept can be applied / adapted to historical periods (Traugott 2017, 96). Priming has been demonstrated to provoke ungrammatical utterances even in monolingual adults (Fernández et al. 2017). It seems highly plausible that repeated priming may have long term effects, especially via alignment and routinisation effects (Pickering & Garrod 2017, 175; 189). Analogy-induced phenomena (overgeneralizations), from an emergentist perspective, resemble the outcome of historical change (Behrens 2017, 235). In the same vein, structural ambiguity resulting from current variation can be taken as synchronic projection of language change, as the old and new interpretation of a given morpho-syntactic unit may coexist for some time in ‘critical contexts’ (Diewald 2002).

With this workshop we seek to encourage interaction between the two disciplines to gain new insights into the nature of (contact-induced) language change. Since we are aware that language change is not a primary question in psycholinguistics (yet) we also welcome conceptual papers addressing e.g. long-term and historically potentially relevant measurable effects, and in more general terms, the compatibility and complementarity of data in both fields (e.g. Holler & Weskott 2018; Bader & Koukoulioti 2018).

Call for Papers:

We invite papers addressing these and related questions (in addition to the linguistic focus on syntactic phenomena):
1. Which cognitive mechanisms play a significant role in contact-induced structural change?
2. How can cognitive mechanisms be evidenced in historical data?
3. At what level can historical and psycholinguistic evidence be mapped, or at least be related to each other?
4. Who is the agent of change (monolinguals, (late) bilinguals, imperfect learners etc.)?
5. Which experimental methods are used to identify cross-linguistic effects and how can they be implemented in studies of contact-induced change?
6. How can contact-induced change be theoretically modelled in terms of cognitive mechanisms?

For the full call for papers, please consult:

Important dates:
- November 1, 2020: deadline for submission of short abstracts to the convenors of the
workshop (300 words without references)
- November 20, 2020: deadline for submission of workshop proposals by the
- December 15, 2020: notification of acceptance/rejection of the workshop proposal
- January 15, 2021: deadline for submission of individual “long” abstracts by the
participants (500 words without references)
- March 31, 2021: notification of acceptance/rejection of individual “long” abstracts.

Page Updated: 05-Oct-2020