LINGUIST List 32.2230

Wed Jun 30 2021

FYI: Online Talk: The Emergence of Conjunctions and Phrasal Coordination in Khanty by Lena Borise and Katalin É. Kiss

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 26-Jun-2021
From: Éva Dékány <>
Subject: Online Talk: The Emergence of Conjunctions and Phrasal Coordination in Khanty by Lena Borise and Katalin É. Kiss
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The Uralic Information Centre, hosted by the Hungarian Research Centre for Linguistics (Budapest), is launching an online talk series on Uralic languages. The first talk will be held at 2pm Central European Time on June 30.

title: The emergence of conjunctions and phrasal coordination in Khanty
presenters: Lena Borise - Katalin É. Kiss

abstract: Prior to widespread contact with Russian, Khanty (Uralic; Finno-Ugric) did not have overt conjunctions or phrasal coordination. Instead, Khanty texts from late 19th-early 20th centuries only include examples of conjunction-less clausal juxtaposition, which was used for both clausal and phrasal coordination. By comparing Khanty texts over the 20th century, we trace the emergence of overt conjunctions and coordination of phrasal constituents. We show that overt conjunctions
first appear in the context of clausal coordination; then, coordination of smaller phrases with overt conjunctions became
possible. Based on novel elicitation data, we demonstrate that, in contemporary Khanty, (i) overt conjunctions are commonplace, and (ii) coordination of sub-clausal phrases is derived via phrasal coordination, as opposed to clausal coordination followed by conjunction reduction. We also show that ellipsis in Khanty is generally quite restricted. Based on this diachronic picture, we conclude that coordination of phrasal constituents only emerged in Khanty once overt conjunctions became available. We derive this correlation from the principle of Economy as expressed in the theoretical literature (Haiman 1983; 1985; Chomsky 1995; Hawkins 2004) as well as processing studies (Koornneef & Reuland 2016): a structure with higher processing cost is avoided in favor of a structure with lower processing cost.


Further planned dates and titles can be found at

We are looking forward to meeting you virtually.

Linguistic Field(s): General Linguistics
Language Family(ies): Uralic

Page Updated: 30-Jun-2021