This book explores the Agree operation and its morphological realisations (agreement and case), specifically focusing on the connection between Agree and other syntactic dependencies such as movement, binding and control. The chapters in this volume examine a diverse set of cross-linguistic phenomena involving agreement and case from a variety of theoretical perspectives, with a view to elucidating the nature of the abstract operations that underlie them. The phenomena discussed include backward control, passivisation, progressive aspectual constructions, extraction from nominals, possessives, relative clauses and the phasal status of PPs.View less
Communication and content presents a comprehensive and foundational account of meaning based on new versions of situation theory and game theory. The literal and implied meanings of an utterance are derived from first principles assuming little more than the partial rationality of interacting agents. New analyses of a number of diverse phenomena – a wide notion of ambiguity and content encompassing phonetics, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and beyond, vagueness, convention and conventional meaning, indeterminacy, universality, the role of truth in communication, semantic change, translation, Frege’s puzzle of informative identities – are developed. Communication, speaker meaning, and reference are defined. Frege’s context and compositional principles are generalized and reconciled in a fixed-point principle, and a detailed critique of Grice, several aspects of Lewis, and some aspects of the Romantic conception of meaning are offered. Connections with other branches of linguistics, especially psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, and natural language processing, are explored.View less
The syllable is a natural unit of organization in spoken language whose strongest cross-linguistic patterns are often explained in terms of a universal preference for the CV structure. Syllable patterns involving long sequences of consonants are both typologically rare and theoretically marginalized, with few approaches treating these as natural or unproblematic structures. This book is an investigation of the properties of languages with highly complex syllable patterns. The two aims are (i) to establish whether these languages share other linguistic features in common such that they constitute a distinct linguistic type, and (ii) to identify possible diachronic paths and natural mechanisms by which these patterns come about in the history of a language. These issues are investigated in a diversified sample of 100 languages, 25 of which have highly complex syllable patterns.View less
Since the hiring of its first Africanist linguist Carleton Hodge in 1964, Indiana University’s Department of Linguistics has had a strong and continuing presence in the study of African languages and linguistics through the work of its faculty and of its graduates on the faculties of many other universities. Research on African linguistics at IU has covered some of the major language groups spoken on the African continent. Carleton Hodge’s work on Ancient Egyptian and Hausa, Paul Newman’s work on Hausa and Chadic languages, and Roxanna Ma Newman’s work on Hausa language structure and pedagogy have been some of the most important studies on Afro-Asiatic linguistics. With respect to Niger-Congo languages, the work of Charles Bird on Bambara and the Mande languages, Robert Botne’s work on Bantu structure (especially tense and aspect), Samuel Obeng and Colin Painter’s work on Ghanaian Languages (phonetics, phonology, and pragmatics), Robert Port’s studies on Swahili, and Erhard Voeltz's studies on Bantu linguistics are considered some of the most influential studies in the sub-field. On Nilo Saharan languages, the work of Tim Shopen on Songhay stands out. IU Linguistics has also forwarded theoretical work on African languages, such as John Goldsmith’s seminal research on tone in African languages. The African linguistics faculty at IU have either founded or edited important journals in African Studies, African languages, and African linguistics, including Africa Today, Studies in African Linguistics, and Journal of African Languages and Linguistics.
In 1972, the Indiana University Department of Linguistics hosted the Third Annual Conference of African Linguistics. Proceedings of that conference were published by Indiana University Publications (African Series, vol. 7). In 1986, IU hosted the Seventeenth Annual Conference of African Linguistics with Paul Newman and Robert Botne editing the proceedings in a volume entitled Current Approaches to African Linguistics, vol. 5. In 2016, Indiana University hosted the 48th Annual Conference on African Linguistics with the theme African Linguistics Across the Disciplines. Proceedings of that meeting are published in this volume.
The papers presented in this volume reflect the diversity of opportunities for language study in Africa. This collection of descriptive and theoretical work is the fruit of data gathering both in-country and abroad by researchers of languages spoken across the continent, from Sereer-sin in the west to Somali in the northeast to Ikalanga in the south. The range of topics in this volume is also broad, representative of the varied field work in country and abroad that inspires research in African linguistics. This collection of papers spans the disciplines of phonology (both segmental and suprasegmental), morphology (both morphophonological and morphosyntactic), syntax, semantics, and language policy. The data and analyses presented in this volume offer a cross-disciplinary view of linguistic topics from the many under-resourced languages of Africa.View less
This book is an investigation into the grammar of Mehweb (Dargwa, East Caucasian also known as Nakh-Daghestanian) based on several years of team fieldwork. Mehweb is spoken in one village community in Daghestan, Russia, with a population of some 800 people, In many ways, Mehweb is a typical East Caucasian language: it has a rich inventory of consonants; an extensive system of spatial forms in nouns and converbs and volitional forms in verbs; pervasive gender-number agreement; and ergative alignment in case marking and in gender agreement. It is also a typical language of the Dargwa branch, with symmetrical verb inflection in the imperfective and perfective paradigm and extensive use of spatial encoding for experiencers. Although Mehweb is clearly close to the northern varieties of Dargwa, it has been long isolated from the main body of Dargwa varieties by speakers of Avar and Lak. As a result of both independent internal evolution and contact with its neighbours, Mehweb developed some deviant properties, including accusatively aligned egophoric agreement, a split in the feminine class, and the typologically rare grammatical categories of verificative and apprehensive. But most importantly, Mehweb is where our friends live.View less
The many facets of grammatical gender remain one of the most fruitful areas of linguistic research, and pose fascinating questions about the origins and development of complexity in language. The present work is a two-volume collection of 13 chapters on the topic of grammatical gender seen through the prism of linguistic complexity. The contributions discuss what counts as complex and/or simple in grammatical gender systems, whether the distribution of gender systems across the world’s languages relates to the language ecology and social history of speech communities. Contributors demonstrate how the complexity of gender systems can be studied synchronically, both in individual languages and over large cross-linguistic samples, and diachronically, by exploring how gender systems change over time. In addition to three chapters on the theoretical foundations of gender complexity, volume one contains six chapters on grammatical gender and complexity in individual languages and language families of Africa, New Guinea, and South Asia.
This volume is complemented by volume two, which consists of three chapters providing diachronic and typological case studies, followed by a final chapter discussing old and new theoretical and empirical challenges in the study of the dynamics of gender complexity.View less
The many facets of grammatical gender remain one of the most fruitful areas of linguistic research, and pose fascinating questions about the origins and development of complexity in language. The present work is a two-volume collection of 13 chapters on the topic of grammatical gender seen through the prism of linguistic complexity. The contributions discuss what counts as complex and/or simple in grammatical gender systems, whether the distribution of gender systems across the world’s languages relates to the language ecology and social history of speech communities. Contributors demonstrate how the complexity of gender systems can be studied synchronically, both in individual languages and over large cross-linguistic samples, and diachronically, by exploring how gender systems change over time. Volume two consists of three chapters providing diachronic and typological case studies, followed by a final chapter discussing old and new theoretical and empirical challenges in the study of the dynamics of gender complexity.
This volume is preceded by volume one, which, in addition to three chapters on the theoretical foundations of gender complexity, contains six chapters on grammatical gender and complexity in individual languages and language families of Africa, New Guinea, and South Asia.View less
This volume seeks to infer large phylogenetic networks from phonetically encoded lexical data and contribute in this way to the historical study of language varieties. The technical step that enables progress in this case is the use of causal inference algorithms. Sample sets of words from language varieties are preprocessed into automatically inferred cognate sets, and then modeled as information-theoretic variables based on an intuitive measure of cognate overlap. Causal inference is then applied to these variables in order to determine the existence and direction of influence among the varieties. The directed arcs in the resulting graph structures can be interpreted as reflecting the existence and directionality of lexical flow, a unified model which subsumes inheritance and borrowing as the two main ways of transmission that shape the basic lexicon of languages. A flow-based separation criterion and domain-specific directionality detection criteria are developed to make existing causal inference algorithms more robust against imperfect cognacy data, giving rise to two new algorithms. The Phylogenetic Lexical Flow Inference (PLFI) algorithm requires lexical features of proto-languages to be reconstructed in advance, but yields fully general phylogenetic networks, whereas the more complex Contact Lexical Flow Inference (CLFI) algorithm treats proto-languages as hidden common causes, and only returns hypotheses of historical contact situations between attested languages. The algorithms are evaluated both against a large lexical database of Northern Eurasia spanning many language families, and against simulated data generated by a new model of language contact that builds on the opening and closing of directional contact channels as primary evolutionary events. The algorithms are found to infer the existence of contacts very reliably, whereas the inference of directionality remains difficult. This currently limits the new algorithms to a role as exploratory tools for quickly detecting salient patterns in large lexical datasets, but it should soon be possible for the framework to be enhanced e.g. by confidence values for each directionality decision.View less
Research in linguistics, as in most other scientific domains, is usually approached in a modular way – narrowing the domain of inquiry in order to allow for increased depth of study. This is necessary and productive for a topic as wide-ranging and complex as human language. However, precisely because language is a complex system, tied to perception, learning, memory, and social organization, the assumption of modularity can also be an obstacle to understanding language at a deeper level. This book examines the consequences of enforcing non-modularity along two dimensions: the temporal, and the cognitive. Along the temporal dimension, synchronic and diachronic domains are linked by the requirement that sound changes must lead to viable, stable language states. Along the cognitive dimension, sound change and variation are linked to speech perception and production by requiring non-trivial transformations between acoustic and articulatory representations.
The methodological focus of this work is on computational modeling. By formalising and implementing theoretical accounts, modeling can expose theoretical gaps and covert assumptions. To do so, it is necessary to formally assess the functional equivalence of specific implementational choices, as well as their mapping to theoretical structures. This book applies this analytic approach to a series of implemented models of sound change. As theoretical inconsistencies are discovered, possible solutions are proposed, incrementally constructing a set of sufficient properties for a working model. Because internal theoretical consistency is enforced, this model corresponds to an explanatorily adequate theory. And because explicit links between modules are required, this is a theory, not only of sound change, but of many aspects of phonological competence.
The book highlights two aspects of modeling work that receive relatively little attention: the formal mapping from model to theory, and the scalability of demonstration models. Focusing on these aspects of modeling makes it clear that any theory of sound change in the specific is impossible without a more general theory of language: of the relationship between perception and production, the relationship between phonetics and phonology, the learning of linguistic units, and the nature of underlying representations. Theories of sound change that do not explicitly address these aspects of language are making tacit, untested assumptions about their properties. Addressing so many aspects of language may seem to complicate the linguist's task. However, as this book shows, it actually helps impose boundary conditions of ecological validity that reduce the theoretical search space.View less
This book traces the precise origin of the early English lexical and lexico-phonetic influences in Sranan, an English-based creole spoken in Suriname. Sranan contains "fossilised" linguistic remnants of an early English colonial period. The book discusses whether Sranan’s English influence(s) originated from a single dialect from the general London area, as proposed by Norval Smith in 1987, or whether we are dealing with a composite of dialectal features from all over England. The book introduces a novel replicable methodology for linguistic reconstructions, which combines statistics (in the form of binomial probability), English dialect geography (via use of Orton’s et. al., 1962–1971, Survey of English Dialects, which focuses on traditional regional English dialects across England and Wales), and 17th-century English migration history (compiled from The Complete Book of Emigrants: 1607–1660, The Bristol Registers of Servants Sent to Foreign Plantations, 1654–1686, Virtual Jamestown, Virginia Center for Digital History, and Colonial State Papers secured from the British History Online databases, among other relevant historical sources).View less
This book introduces formal grammar theories that play a role in current linguistic theorizing (Phrase Structure Grammar, Transformational Grammar/Government & Binding, Generalized Phrase Structure Grammar, Lexical Functional Grammar, Categorial Grammar, Head-Driven Phrase Structure Grammar, Construction Grammar, Tree Adjoining Grammar). The key assumptions are explained and it is shown how the respective theory treats arguments and adjuncts, the active/passive alternation, local reorderings, verb placement, and fronting of constituents over long distances. The analyses are explained with German as the object language.
The second part of the book compares these approaches with respect to their predictions regarding language acquisition and psycholinguistic plausibility. The nativism hypothesis, which assumes that humans posses genetically determined innate language-specific knowledge, is critically examined and alternative models of language acquisition are discussed. The second part then addresses controversial issues of current theory building such as the question of flat or binary branching structures being more appropriate, the question whether constructions should be treated on the phrasal or the lexical level, and the question whether abstract, non-visible entities should play a role in syntactic analyses. It is shown that the analyses suggested in the respective frameworks are often translatable into each other. The book closes with a chapter showing how properties common to all languages or to certain classes of languages can be captured.View less
Definiteness has been a central topic in theoretical semantics since its modern foundation. However, despite its significance, there has been surprisingly scarce research on its cross-linguistic expression. With the purpose of contributing to filling this gap, the present volume gathers thirteen studies exploiting insights from formal semantics and syntax, typological and language specific studies, and, crucially, semantic fieldwork and cross-linguistic semantics, in order to address the expression and interpretation of definiteness in a diverse group of languages, most of them understudied. The papers presented in this volume aim to establish a dialogue between theory and data in order to answer the following questions: What formal strategies do natural languages employ to encode definiteness? What are the possible meanings associated to this notion across languages? Are there different types of definite reference? Which other functions (besides marking definite reference) are associated with definite descriptions? Each of the papers contained in this volume addresses at least one of these questions and, in doing so, they aim to enrich our understanding of definiteness.View less
The papers in this volume were presented at the 47th Annual Conference on African Linguistics at UC Berkeley in 2016. The papers offer new descriptions of African languages and propose novel theoretical analyses of them. The contributions span topics in phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics and reflect the typological and genetic diversity of languages in Africa. Four papers in the volume examine Areal Features and Linguistic Reconstruction in Africa, and were presented at a special workshop on this topic held alongside the general session of ACAL.View less
In English, phonological double consonants only occur across morphological boundaries, for example, in affixation (e.g. in unnatural, innumerous). There are two possibilities for the phonetic realization of these morphological geminates: Either the phonological double is realized with a longer duration than a phonological singleton (gemination), or it is of the same duration as a singleton consonant (degemination).
The present book provides the first large-scale empirical study on the gemination with the five English affixes un-, locative in-, negative in-, dis- and -ly. Using corpus and experimental data, the predictions of various approaches to the morpho-phonological and the morpho-phonetic interface are tested. By finding out which approach can account best for the gemination pattern of English affixed words, important implications about the interplay between morphology, phonology and phonetics are drawn.View less
The organization of the lexicon, and especially the relations between groups of lexemes is a strongly debated topic in linguistics. Some authors have insisted on the lack of any structure of the lexicon. In this vein, Di Sciullo & Williams (1987: 3) claim that “[t]he lexicon is like a prison – it contains only the lawless, and the only thing that its inmates have in commonis lawlessness”. In the alternative view, the lexicon is assumed to have a rich structure that captures all regularities and partial regularities that exist between lexical entries.Two very different schools of linguistics have insisted on the organization of the lexicon. On the one hand, for theories like HPSG (Pollard & Sag 1994), but also some versions of construction grammar (Fillmore & Kay 1995), the lexicon is assumed to have a very rich structure which captures common grammatical properties between its members. In this approach, a type hierarchy organizes the lexicon according to common properties between items. For example, Koenig (1999: 4, among others), working from an HPSG perspective, claims that the lexicon “provides a unified model for partial regularties, medium-size generalizations, and truly productive processes”. On the other hand, from the perspective of usage-based linguistics, several authors have drawn attention to the fact that lexemes which share morphological or syntactic properties, tend to be organized in clusters of surface (phonological or semantic) similarity (Bybee & Slobin 1982; Skousen 1989; Eddington 1996). This approach, often called analogical, has developed highly accurate computational and non-computational models that can predict the classes to which lexemes belong. Like the organization of lexemes in type hierarchies, analogical relations between items help speakers to make sense of intricate systems, and reduce apparent complexity (Köpcke & Zubin 1984). Despite this core commonality, and despite the fact that most linguists seem to agree that analogy plays an important role in language, there has been remarkably little work on bringing together these two approaches. Formal grammar traditions have been very successful in capturing grammatical behaviour, but, in the process, have downplayed the role analogy plays in linguistics (Anderson 2015). In this work, I aim to change this state of affairs. First, by providing an explicit formalization of how analogy interacts with grammar, and second, by showing that analogical effects and relations closely mirror the structures in the lexicon. I will show that both formal grammar approaches, and usage-based analogical models, capture mutually compatible relations in the lexicon.View less
Deep parsing is the fundamental process aiming at the representation of the syntactic structure of phrases and sentences. In the traditional methodology this process is based on lexicons and grammars representing roughly properties of words and interactions of words and structures in sentences. Several linguistic frameworks, such as Headdriven Phrase Structure Grammar (HPSG), Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG), Tree Adjoining Grammar (TAG), Combinatory Categorial Grammar (CCG), etc., offer different structures and combining operations for building grammar rules. These already contain mechanisms for expressing properties of Multiword Expressions (MWE), which, however, need improvement in how they account for idiosyncrasies of MWEs on the one hand and their similarities to regular structures on the other hand. This collaborative book constitutes a survey on various attempts at representing and parsing MWEs in the context of linguistic theories and applications.View less
This book presents a new approach to studying the syntax of human language, one which emphasizes how we think about time. Tilsen argues that many current theories are unsatisfactory because those theories conceptualize syntactic patterns with spatially arranged structures of objects. These object-structures are atemporal and do not lend well to reasoning about time. The book develops an alternative conceptual model in which oscillatory systems of various types interact with each other through coupling forces, and in which the relative energies of those systems are organized in particular ways. Tilsen emphasizes that the two primary mechanisms of the approach – oscillators and energy levels – require alternative ways of thinking about time. Furthermore, his theory leads to a new way of thinking about grammaticality and the recursive nature of language. The theory is applied to a variety of syntactic phenomena: word order, phrase structure, morphosyntax, constituency, case systems, ellipsis, anaphora, and islands. The book also presents a general program for the study of language in which the construction of linguistic theories is itself an object of theoretical analysis.View less
Empirically, the book covers two areas: the morphosyntax of verbs and categories syncretic with the declarative complementizer in Slavic, together with a comparative look at the similar categories in Latvian (Baltic) and Basaá (Bantu). In the domain of verbs, the book investigates a curious instance of analytic vs. fusional realization of grammatical categories that we find in a semelfactive-iterative alternation in Czech and Polish, where a semelfactive verb stem such as in the Czech kop-n-ou-t ‘give a kick’ alternates with an iterative verb stem as in kop-a-t ‘kick repeatedly’. The iterative -aj stem is morphologi cally less complex than the semelfactive stem formed with the -n-ou sequence, which is paradoxical given an analysis of iteratives as categories whose syn-sem representation is more complex than semelfactives. In the domain of complementizers, the book focuses on cross-categorial paradigms that include an unexpected morphological containment (in Russian), a degree of morphological complexity (in Latvian), and an ABA pattern of syncretic alignment (in Basaá), which we do not expect to find if syncretism is restricted to adjacent cells in a paradigm (cf. Bobaljik 2012).
Analytically, the book focuses on the way the syntactic representations of these categories become realized as morphemes. In the general sense, then, this contribution belongs to a growing body of work that investigates the relation between syntactic structure and morphological form, understood as the amount of morphemes and their placement – in particular the prefix vs. suffix opposition. More specifically, however, the approach to lexicalization taken up in this book is informed by the results of research on syntax in the last quarter of a century, which show that syntactic representations are maximally fine-grained, the picture sometimes described as the “one feature per one syntactic head” dictum. Such a scenario has lead to the situation where syntactic representations can be submorphemic, in the sense that a lexical item corresponds to more than one syntactic head, a strand of research that has become known as Nanosyntax. This book investigates the state-of-art methodology of Nanosyntax in resolving the selected empirical problems in the domain of Slavic verbs and declarative complementizers, the problems that all appear to boil down to the way syntactic representations become realized as morphemes.View less
"Form" and "formalism" are a pair of highly productive and polysemous terms that occupy a central place in much linguistic scholarship. Diverse notions of "form" – embedded in biological, cognitive and aesthetic discourses – have been employed in accounts of language structure and relationship, while "formalism" harbours a family of senses referring to particular approaches to the study of language as well as representations of linguistic phenomena. This volume brings together a series of contributions from historians of science and philosophers of language that explore some of the key meanings and uses that these multifaceted terms and their derivatives have found in linguistics, and what these reveal about the mindset, temperament and daily practice of linguists, from the nineteenth century up to the present day.View less