TPS 116(2) – Abstract 3

Syntactic Echoes of Pronominal Cliticization and Grammaticalization: The Case of Old High German First‐Person Plural ‐mes

by Katerina Somers (Queen Mary University of London), Mary Allison, Matthew Boutilier, Robert Howell (University of Wisconsin, Madison)

The origin of first person plural (1PL) ‘long’ forms of the type faramês/‐mes ‘(we) go’ in Old High German (OHG) is one of the most intractable problems in the history of the Germanic languages. Because these forms are confined only to OHG and have no obvious parallel elsewhere in Germanic or Indo‐European, most of the tools of the comparative method are of little use, with the result that the many accounts put forward over the past two centuries rely on a series of unlikely and ad hoc assumptions. What is more, previous work has focused on the one aspect of the problem that scholars are least likely to solve given the array of texts we presently have at our disposal, while paying little attention to what we argue is the more promising line of inquiry. That is, existing studies discuss in detail the possible morphological sources of ‐mes and their phonological development and focus little on the syntactic environments in which verbs inflected with ‐mes occur. We intend to reverse this trend through a comprehensive examination of ‐mes across the OHG corpus, with a particular focus on two of its major monuments, the OHG Tatian and Otfrid’s Evangelienbuch; this analysis shows that the syntactic distribution of ‐mes‐inflected verbs point to the suffix being diachronically and synchronically pronominal. Thus, we conclude that ‐mes must have arisen as the result of pronominal cliticization, a suggestion first put forth by Kuhn (1869) and Paul (1877).

DOI: 10.1111/1467-968X.12117

TPS 116(2) – Abstract 2

The Expression Of Progressive Aspect In Grico: Mapping Morphosyntactic Isoglosses In An Endangered Italo‐Greek Variety

by Adam Ledgeway, Norma Schifano, and Giuseppina Silvestri (University of Cambridge)

This article investigates the expression of progressive aspect by means of verbal periphrases in the Italo‐Greek variety known as Grico, spoken in Salento (southern Italy). Building on the extremely valuable, yet out‐dated, description of Rohlfs (1977), we first present an overview of the array of different patterns brought to light by our recent fieldwork and through a survey of a selection of both early and contemporary sources which include combinations of (non‐)inflected STAND with (non‐)finite forms of a lexical verb, optionally linked by functional elements. After describing the empirical picture, we assess the degree of grammaticalization of the patterns which are still productive today, reconstructing their evolution from earlier periphrases and paying particular attention to the grammaticalization of the ambiguous element pu ‘where; from; that’. Finally, we analyse a hybrid structure currently consistently produced by semi‐speakers from different villages, which seems to instantiate a new ‘third’ option within the local repertoire. The article concludes with of a number of observations about the role of this case study for our knowledge of diatopic morphosyntactic microvariation in Grico and for the nature of language contact and language change.

DOI: 10.1111/1467-968X.12118

TPS 116(2) – Abstract 1

Non‐Negative Word Order In Breton: Maintaining Verb‐Second

by Holly J. Kennard (University of Oxford)

This paper examines variation in Breton word order patterns in non‐negative utterances across speakers of different ages. Not only has there been some disagreement on how best to characterise unmarked word order in Breton, it has also been claimed that younger speakers of so‐called Neo‐Breton overuse subject‐initial word order under influence from French. Data from fieldwork provide a complex picture of word order variability. This seems to be driven by a number of factors, including the nature of the subject (lexical or pronominal), regional variation among older speakers, and a corresponding lack of regional features among younger speakers. Rather than overusing subject‐initial word order, the Neo‐Breton speakers tend to avoid this word order pattern when other word orders are available, such that the verb‐second pattern is being maintained.

DOI: 10.1111/1467-968X.12119

Parallel evolution of relative clauses in Indo-European

by Nikolas Gisborne & Robert Truswell (University of Edinburgh)

The Indo-European indefinite/interrogative pronouns *k wi-/k wo- are the source of relative pronouns in several daughter languages, including varieties of Romance, Slavic, and Germanic among others. These pronouns did not head relative clauses in PIE, and so their presence in the relative clauses of the daughter languages is a result of processes of historical evolution which have recurred in different subfamilies. However, this recurring parallel process is by and large confined to Indo-European. Comrie (1998) claims instead that the interrogative relative pronoun strategy is a European areal phenomenon, because it is also found in neighbouring languages such as Hungarian and Georgian. However, there is ample evidence that endogenous innovation gives rise to interrogative relativizers in English and several other Indo-European languages. This suggests that such endogenous processes may be wholly or partly responsible for the emergence of interrogative relativizers across Indo-European. However, these processes are not the same across daughter languages: there appear to be several meandering paths from the same start point to similar endpoints.

In this talk, we establish a framework for describing both the parallel diachronic pathways and the dimensions of variation around those pathways. The broad outline of the parallel developments can be established by combining a typological perspective on Indo-European indefinite/interrogatives with results from Haspelmath (1997) on the relationship between interrogative and indefinite pronouns, from Belyaev & Haug (2014) on the typology of correlatives and conditionals, and from Haudry (1973) on the relationship between correlatives and headed relatives. At the same time, the behaviour of individual lexical items within this typological space is less predictable, accounting for the variation around this broad pathway.

This paper was read at the Annual General Meeting of the Philological Society in Oxford, Somerville College, on Saturday, 16 June, 4.15pm.

An audio recording and screencast of the paper can be found below and on the Society’s YouTube channel. A PDF version of the presentations is also available.

Latin-language Seminar on ‘Humanitas’

by Robin Meyer (University of Oxford)

The Oxford Latinitas Project promotes the fluent speaking of Classical Latin as an essential part of scholarship (and love) of the Litterae Humaniores. This week, the project will host visitors from the Accademia “Vivarium Novum”, Italy, for a seminar discussion of classic texts on the theme of ‘humanitas’, accompanied by musical settings of ancient poetry. Refreshments will be served, and thereafter those who wish may join us for dinner in the city centre.
The entire evening will be conducted in Latin. Active participation is of course encouraged, but those who simply wish to observe and listen are also most welcome! It will be an excellent opportunity to get a taste for this exciting way of approaching the classical works and the languages they were written in as living things.
In addition to the main event Friday evening, the Vivarienses will be taking over our regular weekly sessions: Lumen Litterarum, on Wedensday, 16 May, at 12:00 in Oriel, and the Familia Romana / Roma Aeterna sessions at Brasenose College, Friday, 18 May, at 12:30 PM.

Please do RSVP, indicating whether you would like to join for the seminar, dinner, or both, or if you would like to come to Lumen Litterarum; no need RSVP for FR / RA.

Bashkardi – a language by convergence?

by Agnes Korn (CNRS, Paris)

Bashkardi, spoken in Southern Iran inland from the Strait of Hormuz, is a very little known language. The dialects differ on all levels of grammar and show strong influence of Persian. This talk will present some salient features of the phonology and morphology of Bashkardi and compare them to other Iranian languages to shed light on the development of the grammatical structures. I will examine the hypothesis that Bashkardi is not a genetic entity, but a group of Iranian dialects of diverse origin which developed common traits by a process of convergence, having found themselves next to each other in a small region that remains remote even today.

This paper will be read at the Philological Society meeting in London, SOAS, Brunei Gallery building, first floor, room B104, on Friday, 11 May, 4.15pm.

Survey: Attitudes towards digital culture and technology in the Modern Foreign Languages

by Renata Brandão (King’s College London)

Looking at the history, present and future of ‘digital’ Modern Languages research, our strand, Digital Mediations, of the AHRC-funded Language Acts & Worldmaking project explores the effects of digital culture and technology upon Modern Language research, asking what kinds of ‘translation’ are performed as information enters and leaves the digital sphere.

As part of our research, we have just launched a survey of attitudes towards digital culture in the Modern Foreign Languages, with attention to both theory and practice, as part of the Language Acts & Worldmaking project, a flagship project funded by the AHRC Open World Research Initiative, which aims to regenerate and transform modern language learning. Please consider doing the survey if you work in Modern Languages. We would be very interested to hear about your experience.

The survey is aimed at people with any level of digital expertise, and whose work involves Modern Foreign Languages in any role (whether that be as researcher, learner, teacher, funder, policy-maker, digital practitioner, cultural practitioner or other).

For most participants, the survey will take about 15 minutes. For those who have strong involvement in digital theory or practice, you will be offered additional optional questions which might make the survey longer.

We will analyse the survey results for future presentation and publication—all results will be anonymised—and will present initial findings in the coming year.

The survey will be open until 31st May 2018.

To the survey ➡


This survey is part of a research project called ‘Modern Foreign Languages Research: Digital Mediations’ which was submitted to, and approved by, the King’s College Research Ethics committee under its Minimal Ethical Risk Registration Process (REC Reference Number: MR/17/18-280).

 If you have any questions, please contact Paul Spence at paul.spence@kcl.ac.uk.